Those who forget middle school math are doomed to pay more to drive than those who don't.
It would take a local gasoline tax of about 17 cents a gallon to replace the money brought in by a controversial second round of toll roads, the Texas Department of Transportation says in an analysis released Monday.
That estimate dwarfs an earlier figure of 2.4 cents a gallon produced by the staff of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. But that 2005 estimate came in answer to a different question: What would it take to replace about $500 million in lost state funding and borrowed money if the five Phase II toll roads were to be built as free roads instead?
The 2.4-cent-a-gallon estimate, small enough that it might actually pass muster with voters, made the gas tax option particularly tantalizing. The new estimate, to the extent that it is accepted as legitimate by policymakers and the public, may or may not fall withinCAMPO board members' political comfort zone.
Basically, this is tax theory turned onto its head. Normally, you want as broad a tax base as possible so you can have the lowest possible rates. Here, you've got a tiny base, so your rates have to be relatively exorbitant. Now, if I knew that this would only affect people out in the burbs driving on roads I'd never set wheel on, I'd be more than happy to cheerlead for this. But as I'm not naive enough to think that no one will ever want to start slapping tolls on all the existing major thoroughfares, since at this rate we'll never again raise the gas tax, well, I'll be drawing my line in the sand now, thankyouverymuch. If more people would do the math and come to realize how badly they'd be getting shafted by these deals, maybe we could do what needs to be done and stop the madness before it's too late. No, I'm not the least bit optimistic about this, but I gotta do what I gotta do. Thanks to Eye on Williamson for the link.Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 13, 2006 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles | TrackBack