The First Four Months of 2015 State Gas Tax Increases
"Though seven states have now successfully moved to raise new transportation funding in 2015, Iowa made it to the finish line first," writes Michael Russell for T4America Blog, with a ten-cent gas tax that went into effect on March 1. "In signing the bill, Gov. Terry Branstad said: 'This is a great example — on a difficult and controversial issue — of the kind of bipartisan cooperation that really makes Iowa stand out as a state, where we work together and we get things done on behalf of the citizens of our state'."
Russell goes on to describe the interplay between the General Assembly—where the House, as of January 2013 according to Wikipedia, is controlled by Republicans and the Senate by Democrats—and the Republican governor. The takeaway is that the support and leadership of the governor is crucial.
Gov. Branstad’s vocal support was critical in convincing Republican lawmakers that this was a must-pass piece of legislation for the state, said State Rep. Jim Lykam (D-Davenport), the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee. “We were in constant communication with the governor’s office,” he said. “You always run the risk of sending the bill down and having the governor veto it, and we needed to make sure this wouldn’t happen.”
Branstad was not always onboard increasing user fees for transportation spending though, as we noted in June, 2013 his opposition to increasing taxes, fees, and tolls.
Russell notes that the last time the gas tax was raised, in 1989, to 22.5 cents, Branstad was also governor, having served from 1983-1999. That must be a record of sorts when it comes to signing gas tax increase legislation.
T4America's State Transportation Funding blog has lots of state transportation funding information, including descriptions and links to the bills signed in the six other states:
It goes on to list pending legislation to increase transportation in 16 states, though it misses Alaska—I'm still keeping an eye out for that half-cent gas tax increase to pay for oil spill prevention. While this might be a gas tax increase, it would not be considered transportation funding, perhaps explaining its omission.