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October 19, 2009
Too Good To Last?
Sandra Mitchell, Idaho Recreation Council
(EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked Sandra Mitchell to write about a potentially devastating issue facing snowmobilers who not only live in
The losers were
In 1972, the Idaho Legislature passed a law dedicating 2 percent of the gas tax to recreation and in 1983 increased the figure to 3 percent. This amounts to $4.8 million annually, all of it dedicated to the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation for waterway improvements, off-road trails, park roads and bridges and search and rescue. This amount of money is not much in terms of solving
And benefit they do. For example, a recently completed economic impact study by the
If recreation is not funded, where do they go next?
Interestingly enough at a time when we are doing everything possible to protect what is left of our economy, the governor and legislators come up with a deal that strips away a fair and equitable program that has been in existence for more than 40 years, a program that improves Idahoans’ quality of life and benefits the economy without the use of any general tax funds.
The only good news in this sad story is that the legislature chose not to implement this plan until July of 2010. They appointed a Legislative Task Force made up of four senators and four representatives to identify “alternative dedicated funding” for IDPR to replace the gas tax. If they fail to name another dedicated source then IDPR would be funded out of the general fund, competing with schools, prisons, Medicaid and others for the few precious state dollars. After two meetings, to no one’s surprise, the task force has not identified a single workable alternative.
The Idaho Recreation Council, a coalition of snowmobile, ATV, dirt motorcycle, 4X4, equestrians, mountain bike, jet boat and backcountry pilots, has undertaken a statewide campaign entitled, “We Want Our Gas Tax Back” to convince the 2010 legislature to fix the mess created when political wills collided.
We got some of that “change” we’ve been hearing about. Let’s “hope” our elected representatives haven’t forgotten how to listen, have the guts to admit their mistake and act to correct it.
(Mitchell is on the steering committee representing snowmobiling for the
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