Governor Taking Heat over Transportation Funding

Governor Taking Heat over Transportation Funding

And the cries for the Governor to find new revenue to fix roads and bridges -and fund mass transit -grow louder. This while the Governor wants to protect taxpayers from higher costs. He knows other problems are looming large such as the whopping increases in pension funding that will be required over the next few years. Where will that money come from? There are projected Federal Medicaid funding cuts. How will that be made up?

It is marvelous to watch the crowd that supports an outrageously expensive and inefficient mass transit system and wants the state to pour more money into it grouse about transportation needs. Indeed, the Governor, against his own better judgment and the strong case that was made not to bail out the Port Authority, has committed $35 million a year in additional state tax dollars for the Authority. No one knows where that money is coming from.

What is really galling about the latest round of caterwauling regarding the Governor’s inaction on raising taxes and fees for transportation is the assent given explicitly or tacitly by the same complainers when the previous Governor was moving hundreds of millions in highway funds to underwrite the Port Authority’s egregious spending. That money was wasted rather than fixing road problems.

Moreover, why was it that the people who are now so exercised about the Governor’s inaction could not contain themselves at the prospect of tolling I-80 to raise funds for transit? Anyone who bothered to look at the law could have known that tolling I-80 for any purpose other than funding maintenance and improvements on I-80 was not going to happen. Yet the then Governor, the Legislature and all the spendthrift supporters of mass transit all thought it was great idea and that somehow the presidential administration would get it approved notwithstanding the law. Mirabile dictu, it did not cave to political pressures from the former Governor. Years were wasted in dealing with cost issues and seeking funding sources. And then the sharp economic downturn put on hold any meaningful discussions.

Road work does need to get done. How about we ask the Feds to lift the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements? That would lower costs dramatically. Not that it will ever happen. But the state could eliminate prevailing wage requirements on projects not using Federal dollars. Where is the clamoring for something sensible like that? Why is it always the taxpayers who must make the sacrifices? Why not some concessions from those who drive the costs far above where they would be in market based system?