Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Spooky old Alice

Alice Hausman that is. Well, that isn't entirely fair. Spot thinks he's older than Alice, actually. But the spooky part fits, at least on the issue that Spot is about to describe. ("Spooky old Alice," incidentally, was what George Gobel called his wife on Gobel's teevee show, a part played by Jeff Donnell, who was not a guy in drag.)

Representative Hausman is a supporter of the proposed constitutional admendment to dedicate all motor vehicle sales taxes to transportation and transit. A DFLer, Hausman was on the local show Minnesota Matters on Air America Radio this afternoon to defend the amendment and urge listeners to vote "yes."

Here's the pitch for the amendment: it'll raise $300 million dollars a year for transportation without raising taxes! But Alice, won't that create a hole in the budget of the same size? Not to worry says Alice, the revenue redirection is phased in over five years, and the annual tax revenue growth should cover the difference. It's painless!

If you believe that, boys and girls, you undoubtedly still believe in the Easter Bunny. Revenue growth occurs in part, maybe mostly, because of inflation and population growth. Demand for services like education, health care, public safety, and everything else the state does are going to continue to grow, too. What's that Alice? You forgot about the cost side of the equation? Ooh, too bad.

Speaking of health care, the Minnesota Care program, with the 1% health care provider tax, consistently runs surpluses. The governor and the legislature don't seem to have any trouble taking millions from Minnesota Care surpluses and putting them in the general fund.

Why, Alice, are cars (and to be fair, transit) more important than healthy citizens, especially children?

The best thing to be said about this proposal by the legislature to the citizens of Minnesota is that it is an act of legislative cowardice, a bob and weave to avoid making hard funding decisions, or revenue decisions for that matter.

What if you don't hit the numbers, Alice? Too bad, so sad, education takes a hit! If this is such a great idea, why don't we dedicate liquor sales taxes to addiction programs, or the sales taxes on books to adult literacy programs? Or maybe, we could even, like, put the money from the "health impact fee" into the paying the health care costs of smoking! What a concept! The possibilities are endless.

Spot wrote about this issue once before, about how everybody wants their own mason jar with money in it that they don't have to subject to the political process, in a post titled Cornholing the future.

Spot says just vote NO.

Update: If you really want money from transportation to go into transportation, raise the gas tax.

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