Gas tax increase a positive measure

Few political moves raise the ire of voters as quickly as a tax hike.

For a politician with one eye on the polls and another eye on his next election campaign, voting “no” on such measures is a reflex action.

It is heartening, then, that the majority of lawmakers serving Webster County supported a 10-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax increase that was approved by both houses of the Legislature Tuesday.

Looking beyond short-term political expediency, this bipartisan group instead voted in favor of adding millions of dollars to the state’s ability to improve and construct roads and bridges.

Gov. Terry Branstad signed the tax increase into law Wednesday. Under the law, the state fuel tax will rise by 10 cents a gallon starting Sunday.

“I know it’s not easy and I know there are people who feel strongly on the other side, but there is a critical need for additional funding for our roads and bridges in the state of Iowa,” Branstad said after signing the bill.

We quite agree.

This long overdue adjustment to a rate set in 1989 will provide more than $200 million annually for transportation in Iowa. The funding will both aid in maintaining existing infrastructure – one in five bridges in Iowa are considered structurally deficient, according to a recent report – and expedite highway improvements such as making U.S. Highway 20 a four-lane highway all across Iowa.

By voting “yes” to the tax increase, state Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, R-Fort Dodge; and state representatives Rob Bacon, R-Slater; Helen Miller, D-Fort Dodge; and Mike Sexton, R-Rockwell City demonstrate their commitment to improving vital infrastructure in Iowa.