Doug Smith: Don’t fall for road bond’s empty promises at a steep cost

26 Sep

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Doug Smith:  Free State Patriot history and social editor

 

Sep 24, 2017

 

This is in response to Delegate Eric Nelson’s recent guest column in support of the upcoming road bond issue.

I have a few issues with Delegate Nelson’s points. He notes that West Virginia gave the legislature to the GOP in 2014. What he calls a mandate I would instead call hope. So, alas! I was sorely disappointed to see this fledgling GOP majority scurry to roll over to Governor Justice’s desire to massively increase taxes and fees.

So when he says “(we) gave the citizens the opportunity to vote on a new, ambitious program that will create thousands of new jobs here in our state,” my first thought was to check and see if my wallet was still there. My second thought was that promise of creating thousands of jobs here in our state sounds eerily like Barack Obama’s “shovel ready jobs” which were “not as shovel ready as we had hoped.”

You will forgive me if I don’t particularly trust yet another politician promising “tens of thousands of jobs” if only I’ll reward his generosity in giving me the opportunity to vote to let him spend a bunch of my money.

What about the cost, he asks? Not to worry!

“(We) took steps to raise additional revenue for our State Road Fund. in June, the Legislature passed $130 million in additional annual revenue from gas taxes and other fees for our roads.

“These additional funds are dedicated to repay the $1.6 billion bond issue. The bond will be fully supported by leveraging these annual revenue flows over 25 years. These funds will produce more than $3.2 billion over the life of the bond – more than enough to cover repayment.”

Well! Awfully arrogant of you fellas to do that and then come to the voters. If I wanted a tax-and-spend legislature, I’d become a Democrat.

The delegate asked whether we should pay as we go with the money, or take on a massive debt and do it all now. Pay as you go, just like the rest of us who cannot pick someone’s pocket to pay for our spending.

The more important point is that I don’t believe you when you say that this bond will never raise additional taxes. Sixty years ago, the turnpike was going be paid off in 30 years and the tolls removed, yet part of that package you passed was Senate Bill 1003, which keeps the tolls, yet again, and allows the toll authority to increase them.

Son of a gun!

You know, there is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program.

There is a basic principle in economics that no politician ever seems to understand. If you want more of something, make it less costly. If you want less of something, make it costlier. Raising tax rates is no guarantee of raising revenues.

“Politicians, like diapers, need to be changed regularly. And for the same reason,” quipped Mark Twain.

Consider whether you want to fertilize your gardens with political promises at a cost of $1.6 billion. And, a dollar to a doughnut, there will be more taxes out there somewhere.

 

Doug Smith is Free State Patriot’s history and social editor. He resides in Ceredo, WV.

 

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