OMT One Man's Trash...from Norman Leahy

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 :::

START's Issues

START, the group that's taken it upon itself to write a transportation bill for the next GA session, circulated its agenda today in advance of their Nov. 18th meeting in Hampton. There's a lot on the agenda they want to cover in a relatively brief span of time. But considering some of the players involved, and their penchant for new taxes, I thought it might be useful to look at some of the proposals on the table, specifically the "funding needs." While none of these are set in stone, it seems, it does provide some insight into what's on their minds.

A. General principles
1. Protect the transportation trust fund – treat trust fund as a trust fund
2. General Fund – realistic to use for one time infusions for projects
when revenues are available but not realistic source of funds on
ongoing basis.
3. Source(s) must be adequate, sustainable and dedicated to
4. Utilize creative pricing mechanisms – congestion pricing, hot lanes
5. Everyone plays, everyone pays
6. For everyone to win, everyone must lose
7. Phase in revenue sources
8. Out of state travelers pay fair share
9. Adequate funds to assure continuation of federal funds
10. Funding mechanisms should remain in place until bills are paid
11. Raise money in a way that it can be used immediately – leverage
dollars through bonds
12. All funding sources must be on the table
13. Urgent to solve this problem

The covering memo states: "The meat of our discussion will be in regard to the more specific concepts that are found in relevant paragraphs B under each issue." So what is the main course? How to get the money:

B. When is it appropriate to utilize the following:
1. Tolls
2. Taxes
a) Gas tax
b) Sales tax on gas
c) Sales tax on broader industry
d) Income tax
3. Private Capital – PPTA, sale of assets
4. Fees
5. Fares
6. Debt
7. Insurance premium dollars
8. Surplus
9. Federal funds- for example, FEMA funds for safety and evacuation

It's a big list, and this is only a portion of what's on the agenda. But it does look like they have given a lot of thought to where the money might come from (there's an interesting point in another part of the agenda -- the idea that we should "View transportation planning broadly – recognize needs in rural areas, transportation is a health care and elder care issue." Now that's a new twist). How this will play out is anyone's guess. But it does seem that those who would oppose using tax hikes to confront the transportation "crisis" have a huge mountain to climb.

::: posted by Norman Leahy at 11/16/2005 0 comments


"You know what the fellow said: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they also produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love -- they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock." -- Orson Welles, The Third Man

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