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I-80 Tolls, Get It Done!

Senator MIchael Von Flatern and I both come from back east originally.

I grew up in Rochester New York, 60 miles east of Buffalo right off of I-90 and the good Lord willing I’ll die 60 miles east of Buffalo right of I-90, just 1600 miles west in my beloved Gillette. Senator Von Flatern (R-Campbell) came to Wyoming by way of Connecticut.

The difference between us is I came to escape the liberal social agenda, the high tax and extreme regulatory environment of the eastern seaboard while Senator Von Flatern seems to have brought that mode of government with him.

That said, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and again. One of Senator Von Flatern’s best ideas was establishing a toll on I-80. His proposal made eight to ten years ago with Rep. Lubnau suggested putting in place a toll on I-80. It was fiercely opposed by my normal conservative Republicans friends at the time. It was defeated after a long and hard battle over several legislative sessions.

The idea at the time would have removed one of the largest drains on the Wyoming infrastructure budget, the maintenance of I-80. I wish we had done it then as we might have avoided the not so recent gas tax hike and we might not be exploring as many or as extreme ideas are we are now with the size and scope of the current budget crunch.

Perhaps the best feature of the proposal back then is that it set up a scheme whereby if you had a Wyoming license plate the state arranged to pay the toll for you so it would cost Wyoming taxpayers nothing especially those in the southern tier of the state. It was an ingenious solution to a pesky problem, but somehow it failed to pass muster.

I don’t like new taxes, probably more than most. That said I don’t mind asking the people who use I-80 the most, specifically out of state vehicle operators, to pay for a road that they use and destroy far more than the citizens of Wyoming do.

For my fellow conservative Republican’s this may be a good issue to reach across the ideological divide and find agreement with our liberal House leadership. Maybe then they would realize that we all want what is best for Wyoming and that they could get more done by working with us, rather than without us or perhaps worse yet behind our backs.

An I-80 toll in my opinion, is an idea we can all rally behind, especially if it does not raise the taxes of a single Wyomingite.

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