September 28, 2007

Tolls : Leadership and money... two things lacking

The Republicans on the Texas Transportation Commission (the folks who run TXDoT) are running around scaring the hell out of everyone by

1) Claiming that TXDoT is broke
2) Pushing to remove the moratorium on privatization which will allow them to sell our roads

You can read the entire piece at the DMN or at the SAEN. It's basically the same article. Though the DMN does decide to use TXDoT's now defunct $86 Bn transportation shortfall estimate. I guess no one told the reporter about the TTI report from last fall. It's the one Ric Williamson is terrified of because it neatly points out his lies.

Let's address point one, TXDoT is broke. Actually., at the moment TXDoT is funded adequately. It could, of course, do more with more money but at this moment in time things are still getting done. The reality is that as one moves forward in time, less and less of TXDoT's budget is going to go to actually building roads. We knew that already. Why the reporters for the DMN and the SAEN chose to report this as if it were a NEW story is beyond me.

What to do about this issue? How do we keep, or even expand, TXDoT's available funding? Well, there are a couple of ways... taxes and taxes. One is the indexed gas tax you already know and love. The other is privatizing our roads, selling them off to the highest bidder, and allowing them to toll them, another form of taxation. Traditionally, toll roads have been few and far between. However, in Ric Williamson's best case scenario, the entire state would be covered with them, not to mention existing freeways that would be converted to tolling. That means it's going to be broad based and will likely catch everyone. That means it's a tax, pure and simple. Only in this case, it's a tax paid to Ric Williamson's buddies, the private toll road companies like Cintra.

Think I'm lying? Central Texas is the blueprint for what TXDoT and the Republicans want to do statewide. Oh, there will be a free road you can take, but it won't be like 610 in Houston or Central in Dallas. It'll be a frontage road. With lights set to cause the greatest amount of impeded traffic flow and frustration. Seriously, folks are already doing reports on them.

The other alternative, indexing the gas tax, takes care of our maintenance woes as well as building new projects, without the adding cost of toll infrastructure. It also allows us to not worry about a private toll road operator's profits over the next 75 years. Ric Williamson, for his part, is worried about how regressive the gas tax is which is funny because it's THE ONLY TIME I'VE HEARD A REPUBLICAN WORRIED ABOUT THE REGRESSIVENESS OF A TAX. That aside, yes the gas tax is regressive. So is the sales tax. So are tolls. Whether you like it or not, without a real freeway alternative, a toll road will be the only limited access roadway that can be used by rich and poor alike. It should be obvious that since what Williamson has envisioned will cover the entire state and effect everyone, it too is a regressive tax on people.

Given that, would you rather them pay less that one cent per mile or 12 cents per mile? Seriously, Ric, I'd LOVE to hear your answer to that.

Posted by mcblogger at September 28, 2007 04:01 PM

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Shit, they're building a toll booth at the end of my driveway. Guess I'm going to have to take the feeder in the backyard. By the way, what's the latest with those Danish scientists and teleportation?

Posted by: Captain Kroc [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 28, 2007 09:13 PM

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