Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ohio Turnpike Tolls Go Up

Plain Dealer:
Ohio Turnpike tolls would increase by at least 25 cents for cars and $1 for trucks for a cross-state trip next January, under a 10-year toll plan proposed Monday by the turnpike commission.
Tolls would rise 2.7 percent a year -- about 30 percent over the decade -- to pay for $1.5 billion in bonds the turnpike wants to issue, as part of Ohio Gov. John Kasich's plan to pay for sorely needed construction projects, mostly in northern Ohio.
Those projects faced years of delay because of lagging state and federal gas tax revenue.
The 10-year toll proposal was among measures the commission approved Monday, just one week after Kasich signed a transportation budget bill that set his turnpike plan in motion.
The commission also hired a bond-underwriting team and a bond counsel and adopted proposed rules governing the commission's review of new construction projects.
Why, oh why did Kasich pick this asinine way to raise money for road projects?  Sure it was better than privatizing the Turnpike, but the state could have just as easily sold general obligation bonds to do the same thing, without having to put stipulations on where money would have to be spent.  Taxing users of the Turnpike to pay for other roads makes no sense whatsoever. 

Of course, one problem is that the State Consitution, written in 1851, bars the state from issuing any bonds without a Constitutional amendment, which means that we have to have a statewide referendum for the state to sell any bonds.  This is antiquated and ridiculous, as can be easily ascertained by looking at what percentage of the pages of the state Constitution are made up of various bond amendments, and what percentage are made up of actually setting up how the government functions.

The other major problem is that Republicans don't believe in actually using progressive taxation to perform the functions of government.  But they are perfectly comfortable with fees and tolls and other regressive ways of taxing people, since those don't ask the most well-off to contribute more than everyday slobs.  All the working stiffs should remember that each time they cast their ballots.

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