Normally by this time in the year I would have seen the governor's "people" quite a lot. I'd also have had presentations and discussions about his legislation, in caucus, in the hall, in committee. Someone would have brought around a colorful stack of colored graphs showing rosy projections for debt service and dead certain future federal highway funds for GARVEE bonding, causing me to explain one more time that I am a continuing to be a no vote there.
Maybe the Governor being under the weather is part of it. Maybe he can get it all done without Democratic votes. Maybe being in the balcony means out of site out of mind. Maybe I don't know what the Governor's people look like this year. Maybe the governor is saving it all for the last week before we are supposed to adjourn so that there's extra pressure to push his stuff through or else plane reservations will be missed, taxpayer dollars will flow for extra days of session and he'll have a stack of our bills as bargaining chips on his desk.
So as of now the most notable executive office legislation in my mind is the Governor's wacky idea about creating across the board $150 vehicle registration fees for every car in the state. That represents an interesting set of values. Even people who have a car that only half of the time even works will pay the same $150 that the owner of a Hum Vee will pay. Let's see, if a person buys even a whopping 3 gallons of gas each day, 365 days a year, that's 1,095 gallons. Even a hefty 5 cent per gallon increase in gas tax will only equal $54.75 a year in gas taxes paid per driver. But the governor says he won't raise gas taxes.
Of additional concern is that Republican leaders on Rev & Tax refuse to allow for local option sales taxes to be an option for local communities who want to pay for their roads and public transit that way. So might we be creating our own roads disaster here? Creating eternally more need for widening roads in urban Treasure Valley because no alternative to driving really exists. Rural projects pale in the shadow of the magnitude of the traffic snarls we are creating here. My guess is that some rural folks would like us to raise our own taxes to take care of our mess so something would be left in State budgets to fix their roads.
No, Governor Otter wants a flat $150 registration fee as a strategy to solve our roads problems. Not something like the tiered fee which now accounts for the newness of your car and thus likely accounts a bit for your ability to pay. It does make me wonder a little about Otter's priorities and values. Some people's cars are barely worth that much. The governor is lacking nexus in his proposal. Not all cars impact roads equally and not all people can afford $150 each year. I'm sure, with time, the Governor's people will come to us about this. I'm looking forward to it because I have lots of questions.