December 22, 2014 - I am conflicted. I got a call from one of SEMCOG’s officers last Thursday afternoon when it became apparent that there would not be a legislative solution to increase transportation dollars. He asked me, “So Carmine, what do you think of the deal?” I told him that I was disappointed (didn’t quite use those words) and I still am. As I was driving home that night, I continued to think about the outcome.
You know perspective is everything. What are we choosing between? At first, we thought we were choosing between the House-passed bill (bad) and the-Senate passed bill (good) – and for most of the week, it appeared that we were. As days went on and time grew short, the issue changed and we found ourselves having to choose between the Senate-passed bill (good) and no bill at all (bad). No bill at all meant no chance of additional revenue for transportation, but it meant that schools and local government did not suffer any loss of funding either. There was also speculation on the future of any other transportation funding bill given the new legislature coming in after the first of the year.
What did we get? Well, we didn’t get the House-passed bill (good), we didn’t get the Senate-passed bill (too bad), but we got most of the things in the Senate-passed bill if and only if the people vote to increase the sales tax by a penny on May 5 (good and/or bad?). I think the outcome was better than nothing, but might still result in nothing depending on how the people vote. We could see more money and see it faster than either of the initial bills, or we could get nothing – that’s the game now…all or nothing. The legislature did not solve the problem, they merely bought a vowel, didn’t solve the puzzle, but gave the public the opportunity to solve the problem.
It may still work. We may still end up with the additional revenue that will help us repair our crumbling roads and bridges and increase our transit services. What I find most troubling is that there was never any discussion about the vision of the legislature, never any discussion about wanting to have good roads as opposed to bad roads. It was all about taxes. In this regard, I think they missed badly.
Whatever your feelings, it is over. So, it is time to go back to work and make the most of the opportunity we have. There is much to do. So, what do you think of the deal? For me, it still doesn’t feel good.
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