We spent Thanksgiving weekend with family in Shallotte a few miles north of the great state of South Carolina. When travelling there we always plan to fill the gas tank with less expensive fuel; this time priced at $3.03 per gallon, whereas gasoline just across the border in North Carolina was 25 cents more. Taxes explain some of the difference.
At the time of this writing (Sunday, November 27, 2011 at 8:15) our General Assembly meets for a two-day pow-wow in Raleigh. (link) Taxes may get “new scrutiny,” according to an article in the Wilmington StarNews. N. C. state tax is 35 cents per gallon; S. C. gasoline tax is less than half that.
Bureaucrats get nervous and threaten negative consequences when they face reduced funds. N. C. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Greer Beaty said that capping or decreasing the gas tax would require revising their priority list of road construction. She said, “There will be things we won’t be able to do.” Let’s hope so. Dr. Michael Sanera of the John Locke Foundation has some ideas on that.(link)
First, our political Heroes should cease to transfer “Highway Trust” funds into their “General” slush-fund. Since 1990 they have diverted nearly $4 billion from roads to other spending. Second, they should stop the “spoils” system. Transportation money is sprinkled over the state political landscape rather than piped to highest need congested areas.
Dr. Sanera also recommends DOT reform. Departments should be reduced and merged; planning and design should be competitively contracted; and the Board of Transportation should be downsized and less powerful— advisory only.
Finally, mass transit disproportionately sucks up resources into wasteful attempts by planners to “reshape cities,” writes Sanera. For example, billions of dollars have been wasted on rail transit in the Triangle area that carries only about 1 percent of the traveling public. Here in Wilmington public busing takes 13 percent of our transportation funds and serves less than 1 percent of local commuters. These are bad investments of taxpayer’s hard-earned money.
Our legislators should soon fix these problems to help relieve our pains at the pump and on the road.Read full article » No Comments »