Posted: 12/01/07 16:31
by Dave Mindeman
So, we have jobs disappearing and we have a budget deficit. Going into the 2008 session, the Republicans will be quick to warn everyone..."Now is not the time to raise taxes".
But that warning sounds distinctly similar to the warning we get when we have a surplus. "Now is not the time to raise taxes. It will kill a growing economy."
So, we hold onto the status quo during economic growth... and we cut everything in sight during economic stagnation. Government gets smaller and Republicans are happy.
The problem is, we have infrastructure that doesn't get fixed. Our schools ask for levy upon levy. And health care continues to climb out of control with more people uninsured.
Our problem is that state revenue is completely tied to economic growth. Sales taxes and income taxes go up and down and the economic swings cause correlating fluctuations in our budget projections. We need a more stable picture.
Any solution would take several major changes but, today let's start by talking about transportation:
One of the first things we should do is to get our transportation funding in order. The gas tax must be raised. Now this is a tax that unfortunately, hits the middle class, but we have to start somewhere. In addition, we should probably tie all related sales taxes that correspond to vehicles (tires, repairs, car and truck sales, etcl) to the transportation department. In that manner, vehicle consumption expenses would be funding the maintenance of the highways and transit. The goal would be to make it a more stable funding mechanism. It would still be subject to some of the economic swings but vehicle use consumption is something everyone uses fairly consistently.
Then, when some special projects come up outside of our usual road and transit budgets.... we can put in requests for the bonding bill. These would be special projects rather than the Seifert mechanism of funding all maintenance via bonding which reduces available funds for other special needs.
We have got to change how our budget system works. Revenue needs to meet our needs in a more stable manner and not become a political football...making everyone the loser.