The Idaho Senate Wednesday turned down a bid to inject more than $300 million into the state’s underfunded, weatherbeaten infrastructure amid concerns that the plan emphasized new construction over needed maintenance and borrowed against future federal funding to do it.
The vote was 15-20. Another transportation bill is pending on the Senate calendar, but it relies on the same funding method that sank Wednesday’s failed measure, making its chances of passage uncertain.
Coming on the presumptive third-to-last day of this year’s session, it was not clear whether the bill’s defeat would prompt the Legislature to extend its Friday adjournment date or leave town without taking action, despite a clamoring for more road dollars following a harsh winter.
Roughly half of the funding would have gone to repair I-84 in Canyon County, currently beset with heavy congestion and frequent accidents. Area senators, citing their general opposition to public indebtedness, nonetheless urged colleagues to support the bill.
“It’s very difficult for me to stand here today and ask,” said Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, adding later: “This is a need that is bigger than just a certain part of the state.”