Betsy Russell reports that House Speaker Lawerence Denney learned from talking to Idahoans that they are willing to pay for better roads through increased taxes "as long as we know it’s going to pavement."
I agree with that, but I'm leery of it. The concept is that the additional taxes get earmarked for, or dedicated to, building roads and bridges. A similar concept applies to money from the state lottery going to the state school system. The problem is that nothing prevents lawmakers from reducing what they might otherwise allocate, and thus offset the earmarks. The first year or two would probably see the full amount going to the targeted problem. Over time I suspect the legislature will reduce the former general fund contributions, effectively eating into the earmarks.
If the JFAC folks don't get to see how much in dedicated funds are going to roads, or schools from the lottery, then the dedication might work. But of course JFAC will look at those funds; it's probably irresponsible not to, because they could end up over funding something if they didn't.
So the earmark just ends up being political cover for raising taxes. I don't have a problem with paying for infrastructure, or for important functions of government, but we ought to be honest about it.