Better Transportation Funding
The biggest hurdle facing transportation right now is the lack of dedicated funding. Idaho is one of only a handful of states that lack a dedicated mechanism to fund public transportation projects. Not only does the lack of a funding mechanism make it difficult to maintain — let alone expand — public transit, it also keeps Idaho from applying for grants that require the state to have a funding mechanism in place. To bring our transportation systems up to speed with modern needs, we need a dedicated funding source.
Most states rely on a local-option tax to fund their transportation systems as well as other needs. Local-option taxes are first proposed and put to a vote for residents to approve or deny. When casting their vote, local citizens will be informed of several key factors:
- How much the tax will be (e.g. 1%),
- The type of tax it will be added to (e.g. sales tax),
- How long it will last (e.g. 2 years),
- What project the money is going toward (e.g. a light rail system)
As the name suggests, local-option taxes put control in the hands of local residents who are more in tune with what their community needs. Unfortunately, the Idaho Legislature only allows small, resort towns to employ local-option taxes, and have prohibited the use of local-option taxes throughout the rest of Idaho. ICL is supportive of local-option taxes, and we believe this is the most practical approach to fund transportation in our state and should be available to all Idaho cities.