Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bill Howell's Spin

It was reported today in the FLS that Bill Howell continues to harp on an anti-gas tax platform, yet he refuses to answer to reasonable workable solutions to come up with a revenue stream to fund transportation. Now before my hard core republican friends stop reading, at least get through the math and discussion below. On two separate occasions I have engaged Mr. Howell in a personal discussion of the gas tax and both times he has avoided proposing a specific solution or alternative.

In 1986, the gas tax was set at the current rate of 17.5 cents per gallon. This is not inflation adjusted, so today that 17.5 cents is worth the equivalent of 9.2 cents (calc). That means road users are paying just about half the tax to use the same roads that they used in 1986.

Howell's most reasonable explanation for stalling a change to the gas tax is that as users transition to more efficient vehicles, the revenue stream is reduced, as it is based on the number of gallons sold. He seems to forget that every year that goes by also reduces the equivalent buying power of this revenue. He also leaves out that his own republican party is regularly voting against increasing fuel mileage standards. When prodded about how to relate transportation costs to impacts and use, his conversation wanders to the only fair solution being one that taxes on per-mileage. These technologies are years away from being affordable, cheap and hack-proof. Any manager would point out that you can only work with what is available today, and the best (cheapest, easiest, and closest to scaling to impact or use) is to look at the gas tax.

Instead Howell and others are proposing a one time fix of privatizing Virginia's ABC store. Isn't this much like selling the family cow? Now, for other reasons I fully support this plan, but not as a long term fix for Virginia transportation. How does this go for paying years of maintenance and road improvements?

I hate spin. If we're really going to find solutions, and I mean fully implemented systems approaches, it's going to take a combination of actions and compromises.

1 comment:

Larry G said...

there's a fairly elegant solution for the Fredericksburg Area.

Change the existing 2% tax on gasoline to 7% and dedicate the 5% to transportation in the region.

Then it will:

1. - encourage Spotsylvania to join

2. - automatically index to inflation

3. - dedicate money to this area for our elected officials to decide how to spend - more transparency and more accountability

4. - tell Bill HOwell how to do this so he can do something more intelligent than adopting the see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil "no mo taxes" attitude.

we used to have INTELLIGENT fiscal conservatives who delt with realities. Now all we have is a bunch of ideologues who believe that high sounding principles are better than practical solutions.

Stories From Other Blogs