The Big Idea That Nobody’s Having
Hey, Rhode Islanders: That deferred tax increase known as “transportation bonds” (and claiming all those wonderful federal tax dollars) to which you just assented? Not enough:
A special state panel yesterday discussed several ideas to raise money to fix the state’s roads and bridges, from tolls on Route 95 and the Sakonnet River bridge to increases in the gas tax and higher traffic fines.
But none of the suggestions would come close to raising the $300 million a year the state Department of Transportation says it needs to catch up from years of neglect.
On a separate front, Jerome F. Williams, the governor’s director of administration, offered the administration’s first plan for covering the budget deficit that threatens to force major cutbacks in bus service or even a shutdown of the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. …
During the first year, the plan would impose a new wholesale tax on fuel for motor vehicles, raising $43 million per year. It would also increase vehicle registration fees by $10 per year,raising $22.9 million, and increase the penalties for traffic violations by 20 percent, raising $1.8 million per year. The difference would come from smaller increases in other fees. …
In later years, Williams would add toll boothson Route 95 near the Connecticut border , raising another $40 million.
While reading the article, I saw a brief glimmer of hope that officials at least had brought some of the correct answers into the conversation — even if only to dismiss them:
Williams’ plan avoids a number of politically difficult possibilities which the panel has talked about ….
But then I read on:
… such as imposing tolls on the planned new Sakonnet River Bridge and on the Mt. Hope Bridge, and raising the state sales tax.
Yes, the fatal thinking continues, including such bad old habits as setting government goals to merely “try and get through this year” and promising that tax increases would only be “for a short period of time.”
How about this: Given the central importance of infrastructure and public transportation and the utter economic insanity of increasing Rhode Island’s taxes and fees, let’s redirect funds that are currently allocated for purposes that may help a few but are proving to harm us all over the long run. (I refer, of course, to the state’s welfare and union sieves.) Hey, we can even promise that the cuts will only be “for a short period of time” — namely, until the state can actually afford to pay for the programs and benefits.