Gov. Butch Otter says he must have a show of public support for increasing revenue for roads and bridges before hell support such a plan.
I doubt very, very much if in (2014) there will be an action an action to the point of a legislative conclusion meaning passage of those bills, Otter told the Idaho Associated General Contractors on Friday.
Otter said hes determined not to repeat his experience with Students Come First, the school reforms enacted in 2011 but soundly rejected by voters in November 2012.
If our process is anemic, if our process doesnt reach out and correctly identify the problem, then all I can tell you is I went through a miserable election night as we were losing all three of those propositions, Otter told the AGCs winter meeting in Garden City.
Otter made it clear he wont support a tax increase as he seeks his third term next year with two serious challengers, Republican Sen. Russ Fulcher of Meridian and Democratic Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff.
I just want you to know that were going to take some time, Otter said.
Otter asked the contractors to help fund a $45,000 poll by the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research at the University of Idaho.
I would hope that you folks would recognize that the information that we can get would be valuable to yourselves and your future direction and your future growth, Otter said. My first priority is going to be: What does the public say about it? Do they understand exactly what were trying to do?
DELAY TO 2015
Among the questions Otter said he wants the poll to ask are: Do you believe that we need more money for our highways? And do you believe that our bridges are in disrepair? What sort of revenue stream do you think we should be looking at?
Wayne Hammon, executive director of AGC and Otters former budget director, said contractors will help pay for the poll, saying stakeholders met Wednesday to discuss the effort. The McClure Center has committed $10,000 for the poll of voters on transportation policy.
All of us talk about it all the time, but we live in the bubble of the capital, Hammon said. Out on the road do people see this as a problem? And if so, how big of a problem?
In June, the AGC reconvened its Idaho Transportation Coalition to jump-start a funding debate Otter initiated in 2008.
Otters effort to raise about $175 million annually failed in 2009 when the House rejected six fuel tax increases. The last fuel tax and registration increases came in 1996, after floods wrecked Idaho roads and bridges.
A task force convened by Otter reported in 2010 that state and local highway funding fell $262 million short of meeting annual operation, preservation and restoration needs. Annual capacity and safety enhancement needs were underfunded by $281 million a year. Idaho has about 5,000 miles of state highways and 34,000 miles of local roads.
Some proponents, including Association of Idaho Highway Districts Executive Director Stuart Davis, held out hope that the 2014 Legislature would increase funding. After Otters remarks Friday, Hammon acknowledged that wont happen.
We are looking at 2015, Hammon said.
The 2014 Legislature begins Jan. 6 and Hammon said the coalitions focus will be hearings in the transportation committees.
Well consistently talk about it and educate lawmakers and thatll filter back out to the public, he said. And at the end of the session, well have this poll so well kind of know what our work is next summer.
Marty Peterson, executive director of the McClure Center, said pollsters will be in the field for most of January, making up to 4,000 calls to reach 1,200 respondents willing to take a 15-minute telephone survey.
The poll is aimed to have a 4 percent margin of error in each of the Idaho Transportation Departments six districts. Statewide results are tentatively planned to be revealed at a joint meeting of the House and Senate Transportation committees on March 18, Peterson said.
Peterson is retiring this month. Priscilla Salant, director of U of Is Office of Community Partnerships, will be interim director of the center.
Salant is working with the College of Agricultures Social Science Research Unit on the poll. Detailed results from the six ITD districts are expected in April, Peterson said.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics