Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gas Taxes could be called a USER FEE


It is ridiculous to think the Minnesota gas tax should never increase. Some say gas prices are so high an added tax would be regressive, hurting families. Others chide in that the roads are still there, why worry? And some would rather cut all such taxes and rely on income tax alone to fund our roads.

Let's get past the simplistic rhetoric and talk actual facts:

1) Oil prices will never fall again to $1 a gallon ever ( yes, even if Obama or McCain are elected ). We should be happy that they are below $10, because that is what they pay in Europe and what we will pay in 10 years.

2) Adjusted for inflation, Minnesota trunk highway spending in 1998 was $1.4B, with 66% funding from from motor vehicle and fuel taxes. In 2007 we spent $1.5B with 50% from vehicle and fuel taxes. In essence, we have become more reliant on state income tax to pay for roads, meaning less spend on health and education.

3) If we are serious about mitigating the pains of Global Warming and peak oil, we must tax oil more not less. Any tax should be indexed to inflation indefinitely unless we decide roads are unimportant. Or we can create a carbon tax and use that money to further reduce our reliance on hydrocarbons. If a road "user fee" is unacceptable, then why fund them with income taxes?

What is truly shocking about the entire transportation debate in Minnesota, is that it took our largest corporations to influence our legislature that they needed to do something! Are the citizens of Minnesota so far behind the times that they can't understand we are losing our competitive edge?

"No new taxes" means a Minnesota resembling a low-tax Mexico in 30 years. Mexico has plenty of jobs. Yet not enough to keep up with population growth or pay well. I suggest the "no new taxes" people compare low-tax nations with ours. Then we could see for ourselves what they truly suggest.

All the DFLers voted for this change. The Republicans who did risk losing support from the anti-tax wing of their party. I commend them. The Republicans who chose a better future for Minnesota transportation are:

Senate:

Dille (Dassel); Frederickson (New Ulm)

House

Abeler (Anoka); Erhardt (Edina); Hamilton (Mountain Lake); Heidgerken (Freeport); Peterson, N. (Bloomington); Tingelstad (Andover)

It is interesting to note that Laura Brod of New Prague chose to not vote. Her calculated voting record probably means she is a future prospect for governor, but is more a liberal/neoconservative than her colleagues.

1 comment:

Kevin Chavis said...

One big fact I left out, but if added would add a couple more paragraphs to discuss: the 8 1/2 cent gas tax will be MATCHED by Federal funds.

If we leave it as it is, we miss out on literally Billions of matched funds. Pawlenty would rather borrow this instead of taxing half of it. Other states will get our money instead. Minnesota already gets little back - why get even less?