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MNGOP transportation plan relies on magic money

by Eric Ferguson on March 25, 2015 · 2 comments

mncapitol2The State House GOP has released its transportation plan and apparently they’re a caucus full of people who clap for Tinkerbell, given that fairies wouldn’t be a much less plausible source of financing.
The MNGOP offers to spend another $7 billion dollars on roads and bridges, without raising taxes. Speaker Kurt Daudt cited polls showing majorities want more transportation funding, but don’t want taxes to pay for it. What a surprise that the most people want more money spent on them — without any taxes. So Republicans came up with the funny money to make a play for votes, begging the question of whether they get that being in the majority means you’re supposed to actually govern. Roads, bridges, and math, couldn’t care less about what looks good on a campaign mailer.
Their sources of funding:
— $228 million from the surplus. OK, that’s the reasonable sounding part.
— $3 billion dollars from auto-related sales taxes. Not unreasonable on its face, but dedicating these to transportation means cutting $3 billion somewhere else. They seem to have left that part out.
— $2.3 billion will be borrowed. Borrowing seems to be the Republican default when they’ve promised new spending with no new taxes: let’s just run up the debt. Problem solved! Bonding is perfectly normal and reasonable for infrastructure investment, but the bonds do have to be paid eventually. No, seriously, they do. You know, like how when Gov. Dayton wanted more bonding, he was also trying to raise upper income taxes. Instead, Republicans actually want a couple billion in tax cuts. While raising spending. And besides cutting taxes equal to the surplus, remember cash source one was part of the surplus. Can no one there do math?
— $1.2 billion from making the Department of Transportation more efficient. Really. There’s that much money being wasted and no one has spotted it? Basically, since the DOT handles roads, the Republicans propose to find money for roads by cutting funding for — roads. Why make it $1.2 billion? As long as we’re just making up some amount of money being wasted, why not $1.6 billion? An even $2? Or did they need some number to produce the magic number $7?
Whatever anyone thinks of Gov. Dayton’s proposal to pay for increased transportation spending through increased gas taxes, there’s no denying that at least he pays for his proposal. A gas tax will provide an ongoing funding source, compared to the GOP plan to have new spending with no new revenue.
Daudt is right that public polls show that the majority don’t want gas taxes raised. People want more spending on what benefits them, but without paying more taxes … surprise! This contradiction is great if you’re running for election as a Republican, since your core platform is “I’ll hold down your taxes, and cut other people’s spending,” but sucks for governing. I don’t doubt there will be a lot of public support for spending more on roads without raising any taxes, but at some point, when reality has again shown its disdain for phony math, Republicans will have to explain reality to their voters. If you want your road fixed, you’re going to have to pay for it. Good transportation infrastructure and low taxes are very much either/or.
Though given how GOP taxophobia has withstood even the collapse of bridges, buckle your seat belt, because we’re in for a bumpy ride.

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