Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Transportation Fun for all.

            I have gone over the governor’s new road plan and am a little taken aback. The fact that this plan will likely easily pass the tea party centric legislature is also something that makes me wonder. Let’s separate things and examine them.

Eliminate the Gas Tax…sort of: I had to scratch my head a while on this for a minute but after listening to the Jack Gravely show this morning I am pretty understanding of what this is about. The 17 cent gas tax will go away except for on diesel. At first you have to say “this is perfectly tea party cutting taxes and helping out the overburdened and bankrupt gasoline industry” but then you have to ask “why are they not cutting diesel?” This is not really a tax cut and it will not likely be felt by many of us other than the gas industry as the companies will pocket this and keep prices right where they are.

This is an opportunity as gas tax revenue is dropping due to more fuel efficient cars and at the same time greasing the palms of historic republican campaign contributors. If you don’t agree with this then think about the diesel tax. The main individuals that utilize diesel fuel are truck drivers and this income remains very steady. Don’t let this fool you, it is not a tax cut, it is a kick back and nothing more.

Raise the Sales Tax: Well not everyone can pay the gas tax as not everyone has a car but everyone including people begging on the street corner needs to pay sales tax. Not only can we increase the sales tax to make up for lost revenue on the gas tax but the Governor doesn’t even have to take blame for rising prices on goods he can just pass the buck and say any price increase is all the president’s fault and all republicans will believe it even as they pay an extra percent at each purchase.

It bother’s me in some way as it seems that we are looking at a party that has said “we will not raise taxes” and they are not only raising taxes, they are making sure that everyone is paying it even down to those that can’t afford an extra dollar for food. Again their followers will likely look at this and say that even if there is a record that they voted for this any mention that they were for this increase is a lie constructed by democrats in the liberal media and that these increases were really passed by the democrat minority which is currently against the plan. What happened to cutting taxes and spending without any increase?

Don’t get me wrong I really do believe we need to increase revenue sources but find this as a hypocritical move in the party.

Let’s pay out of the General Fund: We were talking about cutting things and we are going to be getting those cuts from this part. After this passes we can look forward to school and social program funding being cut with the report that they need the funding for the roads. Virginia has always had transportation in a separate fund with it’s own revenue source. This program has worked in the past but due to continued cuts in those revenue sources over the years Virginia’s road system has gone from one of the best to one of the worst. So we are getting cuts to social programs and this should be a relief to many of the conservative readers.

Tolls are Still on: I know this is not new but we have plenty of new tolls to look forward to. We only have one on the books near the Greensville area but this will only effect the poor residents of the area and vacationers so that’s ok. Let’s not talk about the fact that this will cost us around 10 million to set up and man these toll booths before we can get income from them and disrupt the traffic pattern. This toll is not a tax business should not stand for you tea party people especially as you are in control of the legislature and the governor seat. Of course we have hushed up the talks of the 360 and interstate 64 toll plans for people trying to go to the beach or to Norfolk.

Registration increase: Most of us will face an increase in our registration fees of $15. This is obviously not a tax as it has the word “fee” in it. I have to tell you if you make a fee increase it is a tax increase there is no difference and it is not only a tax increase it is a car tax increase. Of course this is not all we are also having a $100 increase for alternative fuel vehicles (a good way to continue to milk truck drivers and stick it to environmentalists at the same time). This is already pretty expensive and we get to pay yet more for our cars. I’m glad I already did a three year renewal.

Summary: I am pretty disappointed in this plan overall. I agree that we need revenue in the state but am not really happy about how it is being set up. I do think a slight increase in the gas tax (which has not been increased since 1986) without increasing the diesel tax to make us more friendly to freight transport would be able to keep funding going directly to transportation funding without having to take out funding that could go to other programs. To utilize the rhetoric of the party that is trying to pass this I will sum it up. “This is an attempt by Big Government to try and fill their pockets at the expense of the tax people”.

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