Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Toll Road Arguments Fall Flat

The debate over Texas' plans for toll roads has some recurring themes. In his rebuttal of a recent Don Erler commentary, McBlogger takes on a few of these arguments.

One argument Erler makes is how much the gas tax would need to increase to pay for the needed services. Star-Telegram reporter Gordon Dickson wrote last month, state transportation officials reject as absurd the claim of some toll critics that an 8-cent-per-gallon increase in the gas tax could finance regional transportation needs. The actual number, according to state officials paid to calculate these costs, is $1.40 per gallon, which would increase the price of gasoline to more than $3.70 per gallon today. How could this help the poor?

[McBlogger responds,] "Oh, yes... tolls are cheaper. This is an outright lie. For one thing, the tolls are going to run at least 12 cents per mile (as we've seen in Austin, sometimes they are MUCH more expensive). At 20 miles per gallon, that's a gas tax
equivalent of $2.40 per gallon. Even if the State's ridiculous estimate were correct, a gas tax would STILL be CHEAPER than tolls, by at least $1.00 per gallon. That's reality, and I'd like to see Mr. Erler deny that.

However, we all know that the state's estimate is way off and completely meaningless. Why? Because, unlike Mr. Erler, we actually did some research. Bottom line, tolls are ALWAYS going to be more expensive than a gas tax. Period. The State's numbers are 'engineered' to come to a preconceived conclusion. Instead of just blindly accepting them, Mr. Erler, why not actually investigate the assumptions used? Those assumptions include a PROFIT for a private contractor that is paid EVEN UNDER A GAS TAX MODEL. Why would we be paying for that if we shift gears and ditch the tolls and the CDA's?

Read the rest of McBlogger's rebuttal here. And while you're at it, check out the great links, including this one at Eye on Williamson County, which reminds us how we got here.

By our state government’s neglect of our highways a privatization scheme was concocted to save us from ourselves. Our highways have been held hostage by Republican politicians and corporations for several decades by their no-tax, free-market rhetoric. They’ve been telling us that taxes, no matter how justifiable the reason, are bad. That argument, essentially, defunded our transportation infrastructure in Texas. But whether it’s our highways, education, health care, children’s health care, or any other project that is for the publics good, that will further the “Pursuit of Happiness”, the plan in recent years has been to privatize it. But these privatization plans never turn out the way we are told and most times wind up costing much more than we were initially told. The TTC is no different.

It's obviously time to talk about increasing the gas tax. In the meantime, you can encourage your legislator to support H.B. 998, sponsored by Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, to put a moratorium on toll roads.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

McBlogger needs to send an op-ed piece to the Star-Telegram. Send it in an envelope, typed. McBlogger will have to sign his real name and be willing to have it published, however. The Star-Telegram has always been receptive about printing op-ed pieces from readers. I spent years battling Erler. He's a narrow-minded, smug, self-righteous jerk, and he needs to be challenged in his own forum.