An aging locks and dams system on the Upper Mississippi, including Iowa’s eastern boundary, is in need of funding. Normally that’s managed by a barge fuel tax hike that the shipping industry itself supports; but this year is an election year, and tax bills are not progressing.
However, Waterways Council Senior Vice President Debra Colbert says a recent discussion draft out of the House Ways and Means Committee contained a call for a 6¢ hike on the 20¢ per gallon that shippers already pay for fuel used on the inland waterway system.
Colbert estimates a 26¢ per gallon fuel tax would generate roughly $100 million annually, which the federal government would match.
Colbert is also optimistic that casting the tax hike as a user fee will sell the increase to legislators who have taken a “no new taxes” pledge.