Off to the wrong start

 As the state gears up for an extensive look at our transportation system, the Civitas Institute is planting seeds of false expectation in peoples’ minds with their claim that we can fix our transportation woes with no new taxes. Removing tax options from the transportation discussion before it has even started handicaps us in a way that is not productive.

The Civitas’ views, published in today’s Charlotte Observer, include misinformation about “raids on the Highway Trust Fund” and government excesses. Looking past their misinformation, they offer some valid points:

  • - Our growth patterns have changed and we do need to reassess where our transportation funds should be spent. For example, paving of most secondary roads has been completed and those funds could be redirected to higher priority roads.

  • -The division between the state and local governments of financial and operational responsibility for local roads could be revisited.
  • -Certainly, we should look for creative solutions but let’s not overlook the obvious ones in the process. Last year we capped the gasoline tax, which funds our road construction. Car dealers put the brakes on a car sales tax, another source of transportation funds.  

The transportation system is the backbone of the North Carolina’s economy and is a critical component of business productivity in the state. Let’s invest in our transportation system, fix the problems and make it the safe, efficient 21st-century system that every citizen deserves.

6 Comments

  1. Max

    August 22, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks, Annette, for the approving nod and the post. I’m glad to see there are subjects on which we agree.

    However, before suggesting I misinformed anyone, I would hope you will revisit the notion that there were never any raids on the HTF. As I said in this post:

    http://redclaycitizen.typepad.com/redclay/2007/08/transportatio-1.html

    Consider: “2001-02 transfer of $251.7 million, the 2002-03 transfer of $377.4 million, the 2003-04 transfer of $252.4 million, the 2004-05 transfer of $242.6 million and the 2005-06 transfer of $252.6 million — all of which are more than the $170 million provided for in the 1989 HTF legislation.”

    Nevertheless, if this is an issue upon which we can forge consensus, let’s do it. (Thanks again… -Max)

  2. aplum

    August 22, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    More that $170 million was transfered in the early years of the Easley administration to balance the budget. Legislation has been pasted to repay those funds:

    “[A]ny funds transferred prior to the 2007 2008 fiscal year from the Highway Trust Fund to the General Fund in excess of the transfer authorized by G.S. 105 187.9(b) shall be fully repaid to the Highway Trust Fund in five years beginning in the 2007 2008 fiscal year, using the sum of the digits formula, according to the following repayment schedule: FY 2007 2008 – seven percent (7%), FY 2008 2009 – thirteen percent (13%), FY 2009 2010 – twenty percent (20%), FY 2011 2012 – twenty seven percent (27%), and FY 2012 2013 – thirty three percent (33%). The repayment each year shall include interest at the net rate of return generated by the State Treasurer’s Short Term Investment Fund.”

  3. Jim Stegall

    August 22, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    I see. This legislature is repaying seven percent of the borrowed money, and promising to repay another thirteen percent next year.

    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I was under the impression that a legislature cannot bind a future legislature to specific appropriations. If that’s true, they are “repaying” the borrowed money with something that doesn’t even amount to a promise.

    If I were in charge of the fund, I wouldn’t count on seeing any of that money before it was in hand.

  4. Max

    August 23, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Also remember that Easley, et. al paid of some of the “borrowed” money with $750 million of sold of bonds out of a $900 bond (that by the citizens’ referrendum in 1996 was supposed to go to road construction). How can you pay back raided money with money the people have voted should go to roads? That’s creative financing at best, government $ laundering and pooing on the will of the people at worst.

  5. Jim Stegall

    August 23, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Hmmm. I wonder if I can borrow the money to pay my share of the taxes that go to repay the bonds that go to repay the fund?

  6. aplum

    August 23, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Money laundering??? You really do like to frame government as evil or dishonest, don’t you. If you approach the situation with that mindset, that government is the bad guy, how can we make any positive changes.