Et Tu, Cusack?

Damien Baldino beat me to the punch, but the same thing jumped out at us both from this article about Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s consideration of toll booths at the border:

Robert Cusack, a member of the panel and an East Providence councilman, said that the Massachusetts governor has the right idea. As much as his own constituents would dislike paying fees and tolls, he said, he thinks they would rather pay a toll than live with a disruption to a state highway system in disrepair.
“We are the lowest state in the Union when it comes to our percentage of contribution to highway repairs. On average, states contribute 60 percent of the cost of repairing their highway infrastructure. We contribute somewhere between 20 to 30 percent, and have been relying on the federal government to pay the rest.”
Cusack said people may complain about tolls, but New Hampshire has had tolls for a long time and no one complains. “New Hampshire has more severe weather, but their roads are in first-class condition because they have tolls to finance it.”

Of course, tolls in New Hampshire are more of a use fee in lieu of taxes. Our taxes are already high — ostensibly with the roads included therein. Administrators and legislators throughout our state must get it into their heads that there is no viable long-term solution that involves squeezing more money out of Rhode Islanders.

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Mike
Mike
12 years ago

Sigh.
Let me point out for the 101st time that under the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 free interstates cannot be tolled. Not in RI, not in Mass, not in NH, not anywhere. States just can’t “put up tolls” and haven’t been able to for over half a century.
You will note that tolls an Interstates built before 1956 were grandfathered in, hence the tolls on the Mass. Pike, old Conn. Turnpike, Jersey Turnpike, etc. On these grandfathered roads NO federal money goes to their upkeep, which is one of the reasons Conn. made its turnpike free-to get federal road money.

Justin Katz
12 years ago

Mike,
Note this paragraph from the article:

Patrick told a statewide public radio audience yesterday that federal officials — who must approve any tolls on the federal highway system — had signaled a willingness to consider the tolls as a way to help Massachusetts cope with debts from the Big Dig.

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Here we go again. The only thing these fools spend time thinking about is ways to confiscate more money from hardworking taxpayers.
If they put as much thought into controlling and rationalizing the Spending side of the equation, we’d be in great shape.
Rather than feeding the beast, how about putting the beast on a long overdue diet?
It is kind of like my friend Tom Schmeling spending his time and considerable talents on “Fair” funding formulas as opposed to Cost structure rationalization.
Rather than figuring out how we are going to feed the overweight child, we ought think about ways to curb his food intake.
ANd how about expanding the analysis regarding how much we spend on our roads to: here is what we spend on infrastructure compared to the rest of the nation; and here is what we spend on Pensions and Employee benefits compared to the rest of the nation.
No, we don’t need to confiscate more money from taxpayers. Rather, we need to reallocate the large sums that are already being confiscated.
Unlike RI & MA, the folks in New Hampshire are hardy folks who don’t rely on the gov’t tit to get by in life. I assure you they don’t have the likes of Lazy Ass Pauly “No Show” Doughty sucking up their limited resources by collecting a taxpayer funded paycheck & benefits while NOT showing up to work for 3+ years.

Monique
Editor
12 years ago

Councilman Robert Cusack is doing an outstanding job representing East Providence. I am a big fan of his and of the other elected officials in East Providence who have chosen to use their official power to act for the best interest of all East Providence residents.
This is one matter that I would urge him to research a little further.
The problem, as Justin said, is that we have already paid for good roads and bridges through high taxes. Now, apparently, our elected officials are saying, oops, we spent the money on something else (unjustifiably high compensation for public employees, for example, or until just last year, very generous social programs) and we have to collect the money from you again – through tolls, bonding or whatever.
We cannot allow this to happen. To do so would, in part, condone seriously irresponsible behavior. Mainly, however, it would encourage endless repetitions of this kind of unacceptable bait-and-switch budgeting.

Tom W
Tom W
12 years ago

Another indicator of why the Northeast is, and will remain, in long-term economic decline – led by Rhode Island.
We were before this national recession, and while we may get a bump when the country recovers, why our bump will be less than elsewhere, and our trend of decline continuing.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119724619828518802.html
“One big reason is that governments in the Northeast are about one-fifth more expensive than in the rest of America ($6,000 versus $5,000 of state spending per resident). An average-income family of four still saves $4,000 in lower income, property, sales taxes and fees by moving to just an average-tax state, and more like $6,000 a year by moving to, say, Florida. Since the Northeastern states tend to have highly progressive tax systems, the incentive to flee is even greater for higher-income earners.”
“Northeasterners complain disdainfully of the “war between the states” for jobs and businesses, and for good reason: They can’t win. Southern and Western states are cherry-picking companies from the North Atlantic states.”

Tom W
Tom W
12 years ago

Today’s take-away lesson is that unless the General Assembly makes serious structural reforms to Rhode Island government this session, then for your own economic future if you can leave Rhode Island, you should.
If we get more of the same tinkering at the margins and symbolism, as our Rhode Island politicians and “economic development” officials continue to reflexively spew the line about “Rhode Island’s great quality of life,” consider the fact that Michigan and Rhode Island are the only two states losing population on a net basis, and then consider these two quotes from the article linked above:
“A record eight million Americans moved from one state to another last year. Where is everyone going, and why? The answer has little to do with climate: California has arguably the nicest climate of any state in the nation — yet in this decade more Americans have left the Golden State than entered it.
“Migration patterns instead reveal which states have the most dynamic and desirable economies, and which are “has-been” states. The winners in this contest for the most valuable resource on the globe — human capital — are generally the states with the lowest tax, spending and regulatory burdens. The biggest losers are almost all congregated in the Northeast and Midwest. Liberals contend that tax rates, regulations, forced union laws and runaway government spending don’t matter when it comes to creating jobs, high incomes and a higher quality of life. People tell us otherwise by voting with their feet.”

Rhode Island Tea Party
Rhode Island Tea Party
12 years ago

Highway tolls are punitive measures against people who actually work. I wonder if it will be like RIPTA fares and various interest groups – state workers- will recieve discounts.
Like many Rhode Islanders, I commute to the Boston area to work everyday because there are no jobs here. It is about time that “Leaders” in both states start thinking outside of the box in regards to job creation as opposed to painting tax payers into a corner.
Interstate commuters already pay gas taxes, why should we pay extra on the way to work for someone else’s lack of vision? Time for a new Boston Tea Party!

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Rhode Island Tea Party …where do I sign up?!

Tom W
Tom W
12 years ago

>>Rhode Island Tea Party …where do I sign up?!
The RIGOP would be nice, it it were prepared to become an opposition party. Unfortunately it’s not there yet – too many compromised “Republicans” in bed with the unions / Democrats (e.g., Avedisian, Savage).
Until then, probably the only alternatives are the citizens groups – local taxpayer associations such as Portsmouth Concerned Citizens, East Providence Taxpayers Association and the new group in Tiverton, and the statewide associations such as the RI Statewide Coalition and Operation Clean Government.

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

Rhode Island Tea Party …where do I sign up?!
Posted by George Elbow at January 25, 2009 11:58 AM
You sign up everytime you buy something in Seekonk or online-don’t forget to fill your tank with their cheaper gas, enjoy lunch with their cheaper meal tax or buy ciarettes with their soon to be cheaper cigarette tax. Every time you gamble in CT not RI. Every time you buy a car in MA and take 5% of the purchase price away from the Smith Hill Progressive Maggots.
Plus every time you tell someone in your circle to do the same.

Mike
Mike
12 years ago

Mike,
Note this paragraph from the article:
Patrick told a statewide public radio audience yesterday that federal officials — who must approve any tolls on the federal highway system — had signaled a willingness to consider the tolls as a way to help Massachusetts cope with debts from the Big Dig.
Posted by Justin Katz at January 25, 2009 8:51 AM
Yeah, well the way Cadillac Deval says it, he just needs to have some “official” stamp an OK on a piece of paper.
In reality Congress must repeal a law that has been on the books over 50 years and do it for the benefit of Massachusetts and no other state.
In other words, don’t hold your breath.

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

Stateline tolls…now there’s a solution that creates more problems than it solves.
I’m not paying $3 or whatever to enter Massachusetts, R.I., etc. I’m getting off at the state’s last exit and taking side roads to get to the first exit across the state line (I suspect I’m not alone). Pretty soon, you’re clogging side roads, while toll revenue drops to the point that it’s just not profitable.
And for those of you who don’t like state workers…how do you staff those toolbooths? And if it goes the privatization route, do you trust this crew to choose somebody competent to run them?
And if you’ve ever been up Route 95 in New Hampshire and summer and seen the traffic stretch back miles and miles at the tollbooth…

Tom W
Tom W
12 years ago

>In reality Congress must repeal a law that has been on the books over 50 years and do it for the benefit of Massachusetts and no other state.
Barney Frank will arrange it.

miikeinri
12 years ago

How about a few “use the side roads” days before the tollbooths are approved and put into place. Make sure the people of Wrentham, Seekonk, the Attleboros, and other border communities know what such an idea will do to traffic in their neighborhoods beforehand.

kathy
kathy
12 years ago

Great idea mikeinri. People in the boarder communities would freak out. As long as we have straight party voting, and nobody challenging these chuckleheads, we are doomed by the dopes that vote these folks in who don’t have a creative bone in their body and are too afraid of the special interest groups to do the right thing.

Will
12 years ago

Since Bob Cusack is one of my councilmen, I’ll try to defend him [a little].
I think the basic point he was trying to make — which was largely a theoretical one — is that “fees for use” are preferable as a means of generating revenue for road and bridge maintenance, than is general taxation. In other words, only those who use it should pay for it. I think in his mind, it would be a fee in place of taxes, not in addition to it. However, in practice (this is Rhode Island, after all), we would probably get the fee and the tax.
Again, there are a whole host of hurdles which would make such a notion impractical on an Interstate highway, such as if Congress were to grant an exemption to 1 or 2 states, you would be opening the flood gates for every other state in the union to do the same. There is also the issue of alternative roads.
Trust me, Bob is more than smart enough to know that when there are alternatives, and there are literally dozens of connections between places like East Providence and Seekonk, that people would take them to save money. The cost of greater traffic on our local roads, in both safety, as well as the added cost of maintaining them, would not be worth the price. Hey, maybe we can put tiny tollbooths on our local roads as well? Just kidding.

Patrick
Patrick
12 years ago

“In other words, only those who use it should pay for it.”
I sure hope that’s not the point he’s making or at least not one he believes in. If so, what’s next, schools? Only parents pay for the schools next? How about the senior centers? If only the seniors pay for them, they’ll be playing bridge and canasta in a cardboard box.
“if Congress were to grant an exemption to 1 or 2 states, you would be opening the flood gates for every other state in the union to do the same.”
Ok. Let every state do it. Cut off all highway funding and put those many, many millions to something else then. Or tax cuts to help us pay for the toll roads.

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