Higher Taxes Don’t Need to Be the Only Choice for Roads
Yesterday’s Hannibal Courier-Post had a story about the recent MoDOT Board of Commissioners meeting in Shelbina. (Hat tip to Combest.) The central point of the story is the general agreement that future major road projects will more likely occur in areas that are willing to supplement state money with local money, through the use of a local transportation development district or general transportation sales tax, for instance. From the story:
Whether they like it or not, many agree Missourians probably will have to raise taxes, as they’ve done in the past when shown specifics about how the money will be used.
I am not automatically opposed to that. There is something to be said for the residents of an area paying a larger share for transportation projects within that area. My main problem with the assertions in the story is they seem to totally discount or ignore the use of tolls and private financing for roads and bridges. Higher taxes, be they local sales taxes or state gas taxes, don’t have to be our only option. The voters and elected officials of the state could easily allow expanded tolling options if they chose to do so. It is an option that needs to continue to be included in these discussions.
Missouri’s only toll road has worked well for the Ozarks, and the option also needs to be considered elsewhere, as an alternative to higher taxes. Although I understand — and can sometimes support — the use of local sales taxes to fund local transportation improvements, a higher gas tax is preferable to a general transportation sales tax as statewide policy (if you don’t use tolling). I will never support any policy that makes walkers or bicyclists pay for highways at the same rate as SUV drivers with extended commutes.