Thursday, December 11, 2008

Problems of the Future Won't Be Solved With Failed Proposals of the Past

By Linda Daves
Chairman, North Carolina Republican Party

A special committee given the task to generate solutions to the many problems encountered by the state's transportation system was given a year to discuss the options and make recommendations. After a year's work, what is their plan to turn the state DOT around? Raise taxes. I can't say I didn't see this coming. Not only is raising taxes in this economy a terrible idea. It's uninspiring. It's unbelievable the people were promised solutions from this committee who took a year to come up with a plan that could be developed in five minutes. Additional revenue is always the preferred path of failed government bureaucracy.

The very existence of this committee and their proposed "solutions" demonstrates the problem. When the state faces serious problems, the Democrat leadership in state government commissions a study so they can tell their constituents they are "looking into this issue." The newly formed committee then takes a year to generate a plan that was likely already the preference of the few folks in control of state government. When new problems ensure, repeate cycle. There are no new ideas, no innovations, and no thinking outside the box to solve the problems of tomorrow before they can arise. We have a reactive state government and not a proactive one.

The state DOT provides the perfect example. Government bureaucrats want more of our money. This is not exactly breaking news. However, the state DOT and its top officials have already proven there is no amount of money they can't waste through poorly managed budgets, lack of professionalism and competence. Think about this for a moment. The state DOT is wasting so much money even the federal government won't invest more in them. Why should North Carolina taxpayers be expected to do so? Giving the state DOT more of our money without overhauling the way business is done in that department is just throwing good money after bad. In the private sector, when these kinds of shortfalls happen, people lose their jobs. In government, they receive additional funding. Overhauling DOT should be top priority. We need new management to develop new ideas because the stale plans of the past are only digging the people a deeper hole. We must create the opportunity for excellence in state government. Then we must demand excellence from our leaders.

Mileage tax among transportation funding ideas
By Mark Johnson
The News & Observer
December 11, 2008

A special transportation committee gave final approval Wednesday to a report that proposes a new tax on the number of miles a car is driven each year, as well as other options for generating highway and transit money.

The vehicle miles tax would be calculated during the car's annual inspection and likely would supplement or replace the gas tax. Legislators on the 21st Century Transportation Committee cautioned that a new tax is unlikely to advance during a budget crisis. …

Committee member Chuck McGrady, however, said the committee skirted the question of overhauling how the Department of Transportation operates after years of complaints about turf battles, political patronage and dysfunctional divisions.

"We haven't gone far enough," said McGrady, a Henderson County commissioner.

Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, another committee member, cast the lone "no" vote on the final version of the recommendations, saying the vehicle miles tax unfairly penalized rural residents with long commutes and no public transportation. …

Steve Jackson, an analyst who focuses on transportation issues for the N.C. Justice
Center's Budget & Tax Center, criticized the report as lacking vision.

"The report offers no consistent vision for how to move forward," he said in a news release. "Given how fundamental our transportation problems are in North Carolina, this is very disappointing. The policy solutions suggested are more 1955 than 2055."