Monday, October 3, 2011

Rational thought welcome

Officials in Pennsylvania got together this week to discuss transportation problems in the state and what needs to be done to start solving those problems.

The House and Senate transportation committees met with various officials over the course of two days on a Transportation Funding Advisory Commission plan to raise about $2.5 billion in new funding within five years for transportation projects throughout the state.

It was good to see some of the comments from Matthew Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation. The group is an independent, nonprofit search and educational institute.

Brouillette spoke about viable options to fund transportation work. He highlighted the pursuit of user fees and tolls. But what is likely to carry the most weight among truck drivers and the rest of the general public was his cautioning about simply throwing money at the problem.

Instead, Brouillette called for lawmakers to do a better job of managing revenues already available.

“More funding for transportation – meaning higher taxes or fees on residents and motorists – should only occur alongside significant reforms. It is our duty to ensure that every current taxpayer dollar is well-spent before asking taxpayers to give more of their hard-earned money at the pump, in bonded debt, or any other revenue-raising mechanism,” Brouillette said in prepared remarks.

With the state confronted by an estimated $3.5 billion annual shortfall in funds needed for roads, bridges and transit, he also stressed the point of prioritizing every dollar available.

“We must also look at the hundreds of millions of tax dollars spent each year on less pressing priorities such as bike trails and beautification efforts,” he stated.

In wrapping up his remarks Brouillette summed up a lot of the frustration that truckers and others have with all levels of government and the mentality to keep going to the well, long after it dries up.

“Simply finding more or new revenue sources without maximizing current transportation tax dollars with substantive reforms will fall short of what taxpayers want and deserve from you as their elected officials.”