Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

How to Resolve the Illinois State Budget Deadlock

Monday, January 18th, 2016

With news in the WSJ that poor students have to drop out of college in Illinois because of the budget deadlock, it is time to apply extreme pressure on the Illinois legislature and governor to pass a budget for FY2016. My solution to the Illinois state budget deadlock is therefore quite simple:

Congress can pass a law that no federal transportation funds can go to a state that does not have a legislated budget in place for its current fiscal year contemporaneous with the federal fiscal year in which transportation funds are allocated to states or spent by states, including funds allocated from previous fiscal years.

Because the Illinois political gravy train runs on road repairs and the money the contractors and unions kick back to politicians from road repairs and from other capital spending (haven’t you noticed that every single road in the Chicago area is under construction despite the State of Illinois having not passed an FY2016 budget?), the Illinois politicians and their political funds would shortly be brought to their knees if federal transportation funds dried up. With no capital funds to dole out, and projects put to a halt, Illinois politicians would soon have no power to make anyone rich, and few would have any money to give to politicians. Such a move by Congress would end the Illinois budget stalemate pronto.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Aphorism VII

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

We continue to build roads, transportation systems, and buildings as if telecommuting never existed. It must be easier to build like we always did, no matter how expensive, than to figure out how to build new work relationships.

When it is more valuable to build new work relationships than it is to build things the old way, telecommuting will become more widespread.

The inertia of old familiar ways carries far into the time of the new. . .

For a scientific study of telework, see–
http://www.teleworkexchange.com/nsfstudy/

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

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A key to state government reform: Making transportation pay more of its own way

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Much has been written about the fiscal crises among US state governments. These governments have turned to gambling and to other Rube Goldberg funding schemes to provide funds for schools, pensions, etc.

But there’s a hidden malfunction among these state fiscal systems which can be fixed. Almost every one of these states do not adequately raise revenues to support their transportation sectors: highways, roads, bridges, public transportation, and associated infrastructure. This lack of adequate funding means that taxes intended for other uses must be diverted to pay for maintenance and improvements in the transportation sector. This lack of adequate funding for the transportation sector especially weakens the education sector, among others.

In the US, the romance of the free and open road has led to a free-rider culture. Transportation experts often favor increases in the gasoline tax because they encourage energy conservation and the consumer choice of other transportation alternatives such as rail. But few tax increases are fought with the passion evoked when gasoline taxes are proposed to be raised. Therefore, significant increases in gasoline taxes are presently not a likely solution for the needs of transportation infrastructure.

In addition, a culture of political corruption usually surrounds each transportation sector. Because of steady and lucrative road and infrastructure contracts, both contractors and unions feed a portion of their transportation revenues back to the political sector. What has arisen is a self-perpetuating gravy-train for political interests that works against the public interest. This transportation gravy-train produces more uses of transportation funds than there are sources. As I publicly stated many years ago on NPR, “Thar’s gold in them thar concrete.”

One path, then, to both government reform and to its rationalization would be a determined public effort to make the transportation sector pay more of its own way in tolls and taxes, so that wear and tear on public roads are paid to a greater degree by the users and less by the public at large. Such a movement would not only free up more dollars for other legitimate uses, but would lead to transportation behavior more consistent with the resources we actually have available.

The technology exists to install a transponder in every car and truck at the point of manufacture. These transponders should be required. More heavily-traveled bridges and roads could be added to those which charge electronic tolls. Even if these tolls are only pennies, they will add up. It is time to move steadily in this direction. It is only fair that those who use roads pay a greater share of their use of them, instead of sticking other taxpayers with the bill.

Admittedly, the addition of tolls for infrastructure use or congestion pricing are imperfect solutions. Charging for use of roads or bridges or for miles traveled does not have the built-in incentive for energy savings that increasing the gas tax includes. However, increasing the gas tax is presently so unpopular it would not be the practical option until the public mind changes about taxing the use of fuel.

In addition to the above suggestions, the political donations of the transportation sector should be published on a regular basis in conjunction with reports to legislatures on the completion of transportation and infrastructure projects.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

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