From the Executive Director – Week of April 1, 2024

1 Apr 2024, by Seth Grigg Share :

As the 2024 Legislative Session likely wraps up this week, a key appropriation bill funding state and local highways is still pending. House Bill 723 has thus far failed to advance through the Legislature. The appropriation bill narrowly passed the House on March 20th on a 35-34-1 vote. It subsequently failed on the Senate Floor on a 16-19 vote. This week, legislators will work on a new transportation appropriation bill to replace House Bill 723. IAC is advocating that the new bill include the following funding pieces to locals:

– $121 million for local road and bridge maintenance distributed to counties, highway districts, and cities through the highway distribution account (70% to counties and highway districts and 30% to cities)

– $200 million for local bridge repair and replacement (the last tranche of the $600 million promised by Governor Little through the Leading Idaho Local Bridge program)

To date, LHTAC has awarded over $245 million to local highway jurisdictions through the Leading Idaho Local Bridge program (LILB). Of this amount, counties have received $116 million to repair or replace 99 county bridges. Hundreds of other county bridges could use funding, and the additional $200 million from House Bill 723 would go a long way in replacing or repairing county bridges. 

Additionally, the $121 million in local road and bridge maintenance money aligns with previous legislative appropriation efforts to leverage state general funds for local roads. If enacted, counties with highway jurisdiction stand to receive $39.6 million this summer. These state general funds for county highway maintenance are essential to operating 27,000 miles of improved county and highway district roads. Without state support, counties and highway districts would have to levy additional property taxes to fund highway improvements.

State general funding for local highways allows farmers, ranchers, and Idaho businesses to get their products to market; provides access to Idaho’s vast recreation resources; and enables Idaho’s school-age children safe and efficient passage to school.

House Bill 723 failed mainly because it included policy language revoking the Idaho Department of Administration’s ability to sell the ITD campus on State Street in Boise. The Legislature has been pretty evenly divided on the sale of the property. It has become a big enough issue to prolong the session and jeopardize transportation funding to ITD and local highway jurisdictions. IAC will not weigh in on the debate regarding the sale of the ITD campus as it is a state issue. We are, however, meeting with legislators and encouraging them to find a path forward that protects needed funding to counties. 

IAC requests that you also reach out to your legislators in both the House and Senate and urge them to protect and prioritize local road and bridge funding and appropriate the requested $121 million in ongoing highway maintenance money to locals as well as the last tranche ($200 million) of the LILB program. 

IAC will continue updating you on transportation funding developments as they happen.