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Idaho House leaders propose new ISP funding shift bill

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — House legislative leaders say they have found a palatable solution to funneling $17 million to repair Idaho's roads and bridges without hurting the Idaho State Police's budget.

Currently, the Idaho State Police receives 5 percent of the first 29 cents of the state's fuel tax revenue. The remaining revenue is split between local highway districts and state roads.

However, House Majority Leader Mike Moyle said that his latest proposal would replace the fuel tax funding the Idaho State Police receives with 1 percent of the state's general funds.

Similar proposals have failed to take hold in the Statehouse because it shifted the fuel tax revenue funding without a replacement for the state police's budget. Just this legislative session, House lawmakers narrowly killed such a proposal after members objected to covering the state's lingering transportation funding deficit with a minor funding bump by creating a funding shortfall inside the Idaho State Police.

"One of the concerns has always been that we provide a funding source for the Idaho State Police that grows with the economy and continues to grow," Moyle said while presenting his proposal. "The fuel tax is growing, but it's almost stagnant. The sales tax is growing."

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee unanimously agreed to send Moyle's proposal to a full legislative hearing on Monday.

This year, multiple lawmakers have expressed willingness to find more ways to support transportation projects. But they have faced challenges in a year the Republican-dominated Legislature overwhelmingly also wants to cut taxes.

In 2015, the Legislature agreed to raise the gas tax and increase vehicle registration fees — raising $50 million in new transportation funding — but many of those lawmakers vowed that they would be bringing back tax cuts to counter the last-minute solution. To date, the sole tax-cut proposal has yet to make it to a hearing in the Senate despite sailing through the House.

Idaho does not use general state dollars to address transportation costs, leaving it up to fuels taxes, registration fees and other sources to provide the money.

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