DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) -- A proposal to raise Iowa's gas tax has won preliminary approval from lawmakers in the Iowa House.
A subcommittee backed the bill Wednesday which would gradually raise the gas tax by ten cents a gallon.
Next, it will move to the full House transportation committee.
The move would generate $215 million a year for infrastructure expenses.
The DOT says it's in dire need of more funding. Sioux City's economic development leaders agree.
Those leaders say they don't want to raise taxes, but if more funding isn't found soon, it could hurt Sioux City's growth directly.
Sioux City's leaders say that expanding highway 20 and making sure state-maintained roads are in good shape could drastically affect the growth of not only in Sioux City, but the state as a whole.
Iowa DOT director Paul Trombino says the department wants to fix things, but they're dramatically under funded. He says he realizes how important roads are to everyone in the state.
"Transportation is an everyone issue, and that's why I like it. Every single person has something or does something related to transportation every single day of their life," said Trombino.
Wednesday at the 2014 transportation day in the legislature, several state representatives working on increasing funding for the DOT say they understand a higher tax isn't a popular idea, but it may be the only way to get it done.
Larry Winum with the Highway 34 coalition says a fuel tax specifically could greatly impact economic development in the state.
"When you go and talk with the men and women who are representing us, I don't think I've had any of them say to me that they don't think we have a problem, they just don't know how to solve the problem," said Winum.
The highway 20 coalition in Sioux City has been working on developing the highway into four lanes for decades.
Former director of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce, Debi Durham, says that it's clear to everyone why Highway 20 and the DOT need more funding, but she believes a combination of solutions will be the answer.
"Every user of the system knows that it needs more revenue. I think the plan is this next year, let people look at the plan, let them weigh in on the plan, and then hopefully in the future legislators can deal with it, and I think it's going to be a hybrid," said Debi Durham.
Whether or not a fuel tax is the way to go will be a decision left up to the state legislators.
All those who spoke Wednesday say finding funding, no matter how it's found, is crucial this year to grow Iowa.
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