March 10, 2014 - Last week, the president announced his FY 2015 budget. It can be called an aggressive budget, I guess. It is the type of budget we need if we are going to improve the conditions of our declining road and transit systems. It replenishes the Highway Trust Fund that is going broke today and it provides enough money to improve our road and transit systems for the next four years. So how much of a gas tax increase is he calling for to be able to do these wonderful things? None! Zero!
So how is he going to pay for this? The president’s budget proposes to devote $150 billion from transition revenue generated from pro-growth tax reform to supplement current revenues from the gas tax. Do you know what this means, because I sure don’t. Transition revenue from pro-growth tax reform? Sounds like a one-shot thing, not a reliable, growing, stable funding source. How are transportation agencies supposed to plan for all of the improvements we need with “transition revenue from pro-growth tax reform?”
Here is what I know. We have hitched our horses up to a guaranteed declining source of revenue – the gas tax. The condition of our public transportation infrastructure is bad and getting worse. Instead of debating how and when we are going to get additional resources so we can plan for the systematic improvement of the systems over a long period of time, we get “transition revenue from pro-growth tax,” whatever that is! It is as bad as our state legislature debating how and where to distribute $100 million dollars when we need billions! What we need is a solid funding source that will provide us with a growing source of revenue over a long period of time if we are going to have a chance to make things better today and tomorrow.
It concerns me that there does not seem to be any state or federal elected official that understands the gravity of the situation and is ready, willing, and able to do something about it. The longer we wait to have the discussion and make some real decisions on funding, the worse the system gets, the more expensive it gets to fix, and the longer it will take. Just look at the condition of our roads after this brutal winter.
The fact that the federal budget does not contain funding for the New International Bridge Crossing gets all of the headlines, but it is the thousands of miles of bad roads and bridges and not enough transit that is the real issue here.
You must be logged in to comment. Log in or Register to comment.