Transportation Funding: Results



The Common Interest’s poll of its members has now concluded.  We had a total 219 citizens—Republicans, Democrats, and Independents from across Idaho— weigh in.  They each spent an average of more than 1 ½ hours reviewing our transportation funding brief and answering our questionnaire.


 Most of our members think that our roads, roads they all drive every day, are not in such dire condition that significant increases in taxes or fees are justified in these difficult economic times.

There is no tax or fee increase that received the two-thirds support we require to take a position in support.  A few of the most modest proposed increases did receive narrower majority support.   Specifically, fairly narrow majorities supported a 2 cent per gallon fuel tax increase and a 5% increase in vehicle registration fees if it’s applied to all categories of vehicles. 

On many of the more ambitious proposed increases, we had more than the two-thirds opposition required for us to take an official opposition position.  Opposition was especially strong to significant increases in car and pickup registration fees, particularly if heavy truck registration fees are not raised by equal or greater percentages.

Our members recognize that Idaho’s roads could use improvement, that their condition will deteriorate somewhat without additional funding, and that deferred maintenance is more expensive maintenance.  However, our results also reflected a recognition that our roads are in as good a condition as they have been most of the last 15 years and are in about the same or better condition than in most other states. 

The full results are described in detail below.


We first asked our members how much new revenue overall should be raised.  For these, and most other questions in the survey, we asked the question once for what they would support this year and once for what they would support when the economy has recovered.


This Year When Economy has Recovered
Support Oppose Support Oppose
$10 million 63% 37% 65% 35%
$10 – $50 million 52% 48% 64% 36%
$50 – $100 million 40% 60% 54% 46%
$100 – $150 million 30% 70% 47% 53%
$150 – $200 million 14% 86% 29% 71%
$200 – $250 million 10% 90% 21% 79%
$250 – $300 million Not asked 14% 86%




We asked members what they thought about passing increases that would be phased in to fill gaps between how much new revenue they support this year and when the economy has recovered.


Support Oppose
2-year phase in 37% 63%
3-year phase in 43% 57%
5-year phase in 44% 56%
Additional increases passed only after economy has recovered 51% 49%


Setting aside the question of how it would be paid for, we asked our members whether they thought that the $6 million for new information and planning systems that was recommended by the OPE audit was a wise investment.  We have an official position in support.


Support Oppose
$6 million for enhanced ITD information & planning systems 76% 24%


Many states (and the federal government) address the need for heavy trucks to pay more because they cause more wear and tear on the highways by taxing diesel at a higher rate than gas.  Consequently, we asked about increases on gas and diesel separately.


All this Year When Economy Has Recovered
Support Oppose Support Oppose




2 cents/gallon 56% 44% 60% 40%
5 cents/gallon 42% 58% 52% 48%
7 cents/gallon 27% 73% 41% 59%
10 cents/gallon 22% 78% 40% 60%
12 cents/gallon 13% 87% 23% 77%
15 cents/gallon 15% 85% 20% 80%




2 cents/gallon 63% 37% 58% 42%
5 cents/gallon 52% 48% 54% 46%
7 cents/gallon 36% 64% 43% 57%
10 cents/gallon 34% 66% 44% 56%
12 cents/gallon 20% 80% 28% 72%
15 cents/gallon 20% 80% 28% 72%

We also asked about support for indexing fuel taxes.


Support Oppose
Indexing to Consumer Price Index (broad inflation measure) 51% 49%
Indexing to the Producer Price Index

for Highway & Street Construction

56% 44%


In contrast to the fuels tax increases that have been proposed, our membership is decidedly opposed to all the vehicle registration fee increase bills that have received a hearing thus far.  The level of opposition exceeds our two-thirds threshold so we are officially opposed to all three bills.  Part of the higher opposition is due to the fact that registration fees are a less pure user fee than fuel taxes and that, like property taxes, payment comes in bigger chunks.

The far more significant factor in explaining the greater opposition to these registration fee bills, however, is that each raises car and pickup registration fees substantially while raising heavy truck registration fees little or not at all.  Because the best available evidence suggests that heavy trucks are, if anything, already underpaying relative to the wear and tear they impose on our roads, there was substantial consensus among our members that it is misguided and unfair to ask car and pickup owners to subsidize heavy truck owners.  Having reviewed our brief on the issue, our members also found that the arguments that have been offered to justify why so much less is being asked of heavy truck owners lack factual support.

Here are the results for each of the three vehicle registration fee bills that have had a hearing.


Support Oppose
HB 98 (The Gov’s original bill):  Raise reg fees on cars and pickups by 133%, on light trucks by 120%, and on heavy trucks by 5% over five years 21% 79%
HB 148:  Raise reg fees on cars and pickups by 73% this year and 0% on light and heavy trucks 21% 79%
HB 149:  Would raise reg fees on cars and pickups by 56% this year and 0% on light and heavy trucks 31% 69%

Our members also overwhelmingly support requirements for making any registration fee increases fair and equitable.


Support Oppose
Require  equal or greater percentage increase on heavy trucks if car and pickup fees are raised this year 78% 22%
Require equal or greater percentage increase in heavy trucks if car and pickup fees are raised before ITD’s cost allocation study is complete 75% 25%
New statutory requirement that Idaho, like Oregon, do a cost allocation study every 5-7 years and then adjust taxes and fees accordingly 80% 20%

If the increases across categories of vehicle are equitable and modest, our members’ opposition to registration fees decline.  For the most modest increases, there is narrow majority support but not the two-thirds support required for an organizational position in support.


  This Year When Economy has Recovered
Support Oppose Support Oppose



Cars & Pickups

5% 57% 43% 57% 43%
10% 43% 57% 50% 50%
25% 34% 66% 41% 59%
50% 22% 78% 31% 69%
75% 9% 91% 13% 87%
100% Not asked 11% 89%
125% Not asked 7% 93%
150% Not asked 6% 94%



Light Trucks

(8,000 – 60,000 lbs)

5% 53% 47% 57% 43%
10% 46% 54% 53% 47%
25% 34% 66% 44% 56%
50% 27% 73% 35% 65%
75% 11% 89% 16% 84%
100% Not asked 14% 86%
125% Not asked 9% 91%
150% Not asked 11% 89%



Heavy Trucks

(Over 60,000 lbs)

5% 63% 37% 59% 41%
10% 54% 46% 60% 40%
25% 38% 62% 50% 50%
50% 29% 71% 41% 59%
75% 19% 81% 27% 73%
100% Not asked 22% 78%
125% Not asked 14% 86%
150% Not asked 14% 86%


We also asked about a number of other adjustments that could be made to the way registration fees are assessed.


  Support Oppose

Cars & Pickups

Flat fee regardless of age of vehicle 36% 64%
Higher fee the greater the weight 77% 23%
Light Trucks Solely on weight, eliminate distinction btwn commercial & non-commercial/farm trucks  





Heavy Trucks

Convert to a weight/distance tax 73% 27%
Additional tiers for trucks that travel more than 50,000 miles  





A narrow majority of our members opposed the $125 million in new GARVEE bonding authority requested by the Governor.  A narrow majority supported $75 million in new authority.  Given these results, the $82 million supported by JFAC would likely come out pretty close to 50/50.


Support Oppose
$125 million in new authority 44% 56%
$75 million in new authority 53% 47%


We asked about the three changes to local option vehicle registration fees that have been proposed this session.  We are neutral on each, but show clear majority support for HB 155 as amended.


Support Oppose
HB 134: Remove limit on the amount of local option car and pickup registration fees that a county can assess with simple majority voter approval 46% 54%
HB 155 (original): Provide cities and highway districts with local option car and registration fee authority for specific projects with simple majority voter approval 52% 48%
HB 155 (as amended): Provide cities and highway districts with local option car and registration fee authority for specific projects with two-thirds voter approval 58% 42%

With respect to local option sales tax authority, our members were clearly supportive in principle.


Support Oppose
Local option sales tax authority in principle 75% 25%

Like the Legislature, our members were more divided on the specific parameters of that authority. 

The two points on which there was greater than two-thirds consensus were:

  1. Opposition to a requirement for a constitutional amendment to grant such authority
  2. Opposition to extending the authority to counties only

While not reaching our two-thirds threshold, our results indicated the local option package that receives the most support:

  1. Put before voters on primary or general election dates in even or odd years
  2. Could be assessed by cities, counties, or regional transportation authorities
  3. Approved by simple majority of voters (more support than other thresholds, but not majority support)
  4. If approved, could be used for public transit among other uses

Below are the detailed results.


  Support Oppose


Election Dates

Only on primary or general election dates in even or odd years 61% 39%
Only on primary or general election dates in even years 38% 62%
Only on general election dates in even years 50% 50%
Units of Local Govt Authorized to Use Counties only 27% 73%
Cities and counties only 44% 56%
Cities, counties, and regional transportation authorities 56% 44%
Voter Approval Thresholds 50% plus 1 46% 54%
60% 34% 66%
Two-thirds 38% 62%
Voter Thresholds for Regional Local Option Tax For regional planning authorities if 60% voter approval overall, 50% plus 1 voter approval in each county 37% 63%
For regional planning authorities if two-thirds voter approval overall, and 60% voter approval in each county 32% 68%
Require a constitutional amendment 14% 86%
Option to use for public transit, among other uses 77% 23%