Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Driving on a toll road cost 10 to 15 times as much as a freeway... all that extra revenue will pad a lot of politicians' and contractors' pockets."

State GOP pushes toll-road propaganda


Paul Mulshine
The Star-Ledger (New Jersey)
Copyright 2008

In a recent press release on opposition to a hike in the state gas tax, the state Senate Republicans included this comment about the future of gas-tax revenues:

"Even the United States Secretary of Transportation has acknowledged the gas tax is an unsustainable source of revenue for transportation projects. 'We can't afford to continue pinning our transportation network's future to the gas tax,' said Mary Peters, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, in a statement to 'Advances in higher fuel-efficiency vehicles and alternative fuels are making the gas tax an even less sustainable support for funding roads, bridges and transit systems.'

Not only is this absolute nonsense, it represents little more than Bush administration propaganda in favor of the exact approach on toll roads recently rejected overwhelmingly by New Jerseyans.

Peters is a shameless advocate for the multinational companies trying to replace freeways with toll roads. She is a major force behind the Trans-Texas Corridor, a massive toll road project that is the biggest scam on the motorist ever envisioned by greedy politicians.

The idea that gas-tax revenues will be shrinking in the future is the big lie of the toll-road pirates. In fact, federal Energy Information Administration figures show that motor fuel usage is expected to rise through 2030. Tax revenues will rise accordingly. Even if gas and diesel usage were to fall off a bit, an increase of mere pennies in the tax would offset the difference.

The New Jersey GOP proposes using motor-vehicle fees rather than gas-tax revenues to replenish our Transportation Trust Fund.

This nice in theory, but it's just another false promise.

Back when these guys were in power, they went on a spending orgy that would shame even the Democrats. Now they want you to believe that you can trust them if they somehow get back in power.

The state government needs those millions in motor-vehicle fees to fund the big pension increases the Republicans forced through during the Whitman administration. That money is also needed to pay off the $8.7 billion the GOP borrowed without voter approval to fund that school-construction debacle. And then there's the $2.6 billion in pension bonds that Christie Whitman also borrowed without voter approval.

The reality is that there are only two ways to fund the highways. And if you're not in favor the gas tax, you're in favor of tolls. And if you don't think that's the real Republican position, think of how hard the GOP establishment fought against Bret Schundler in 2001 when he proposed eliminating Parkway tolls.

In short, when you hear a politician say he's against increasing the gas tax, assume he's in favor of increasing tolls. And then consider the fact that driving on a toll road cost 10 to 15 times as much as driving on a freeway. And that all that extra revenue will pad a lot of politicians' and contractors' pockets.

And also consider that it doesn't matter in the least whether the politician in question is a Democrat named Jon Corzine or a Republican named George W. Bush.

Then it will all become clear.

© 2008 New Jersey

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