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Horizontal Infrastructure: Highway and Bridge Repair | Iowa Republican Governor Debate 5/20/10

posted on May 20, 2010

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Mr. Roberts, this question about road building and road construction goes first to you and then to Mr. Vander Plaats and then to Mr. Branstad. It relates to the DOT study that says that the current funding road use taxes out of motor fuel taxes and license fees will not adequately fund road building and construction in the future. What is your long-term plan for road building and construction in Iowa and financing it?

Roberts: We have had a capital project fund in state government called the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund for a number of years. Most of our gambling receipts go into this fund. Typically it has been used for vertical infrastructure. Unfortunately some of those dollars have been diverted under Chet Culver's administration for other purposes. But I would make a priority to restore funding to the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund to provide dollars for vertical infrastructure. But I think that ultimately we can also use some of those dollars for highway and bridge improvements for horizontal infrastructure needs as well.

Roberts: I think it would be better for us to use those kinds of resources even for highways and bridges than to look to other sources.

Borg: Mr. Vander Plaats.

Vander Plaats: Again, Dean, I don't believe Iowa has a revenue problem, I believe we have a spending problem. As we have grown this budget way outside of its britches is we started going to other funding sources so we used the Rebuild Iowa infrastructure that Rod is talking about, put it into the general fund. I believe what we need to do is you need to have a governor who knows how to get a budget in order, who knows how to get results with excellence and properly fund infrastructure which is the backbone of economic development.

Vander Plaats: Today it's not just roads and bridges but it is digital communication, it is high tech communication, broadband but that's where we need to put a focus. What Culver and Judge did by doing the I-jobs program, they have indebted a future generation and they have tied our hands to the back of gambling until 2019. I believe you also need to have a governor that says, you know what, I'll set up a bond sinking fund to help at least retire the responsibility of that debt so we're not tied to the hands of gambling until 2019 and we have money to provide for future infrastructure needs.

Borg: Mr. Branstad, the question is how to fund -- what is your plan on how to fund roads and road building?

Branstad: First of all, I believe in a pay as you go system, not a borrow and bond system like Culver had advocated and because when you do that then you've got to pay interest and that means less money is actually available for building roads. The other terrible thing that he recommended was to rob the road fund to pay for the highway patrol ...

Borg: But the question is how would you do it?

Branstad: I would do it by, first of all, as Rod suggested, not use this money from the -- I would use money from the Rebuild Infrastructure fund, I would also use money from the road use tax fund. I would improve the way we manage the resources and reduce administrative costs so more of the money goes to actually build roads and bridges, not doing it with borrowed money but doing it on a pay as you go basis.

Tags: Bob Vander Plaats bridges budgets campaign 2010 construction debates elections gubernatorial candidates infrastructure Iowa Republicans roads Rod Roberts Terry Branstad transportation