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Why Transportation Investment Doesn’t Always Mean Raising Taxes

In the past couple weeks I’ve been speaking to folks about the need to invest in our infrastructure. I think that’s pretty straight forward: you put money and effort (i.e. man hours) into fixing and expanding the infrastructure we need to move about the region, and there should be:

a) improved traffic flow
b) better air quality
c) more transit options
d) reduced frustration on the part of travelers everywhere

Seems like a win-win-win to me:

  • We create jobs which help get people back to self-sufficiency (and has the added benefit of reducing need for resource-sucking social programs which are creating our huge deficit)
  • We build lasting infrastructure that helps us better move goods and people protecting our global competitive position
  • We provide greater mobility options for 21 million Americans here in the southland.

Not bad, right? Well apparently “invest” is code for “raise taxes” to some folks. So let’s be clear: Mobility 21 is not about raising taxes, we’re about doing a better job with the resources we have and directing our precious tax dollars to the best use to keep our economy moving and put people back to work while delivering a long-term benefit to the nation.

That being said, the way we currently fund our investment in our infrastructure has some problems. First, the level of the investment is not commensurate with the magnitude of the problem. Not by a long shot. As we move into an era of greater fuel efficiency (which we should definitely encourage) funding our infrastructure through fuel taxes is a bit self-defeating. Perhaps most important, while we have accountability and transparency at the local level, once we get to state and federal government that emphasis on getting what you pay for, and rewarding good governance does not always carry through. That creates distrust on the part of taxpayers and it breeds complacency on the part of those in charge of delivering results.

What’s Mobility 21 doing about the disconnect between how we use our transportation network and how we fund it?

We’re advocating for greater flexibility with financing tools and project delivery methods that will help stretch those tax dollars further. We’re proposing ways in which we can cut through red tape to gain regulatory efficiencies that will expedite project delivery and save taxpayers money. We’re working with legislators to identify areas where it is most appropriate to direct dwindling state and federal dollars, focused on return on investment. And, we’re working with people like you to educate the public about how transportation is funded, why that’s important, and create a groundswell of support from the average citizen to keep transportation funding a top priority.

If you haven’t already joined Mobility 21, now’s a good time to get on the list. And if you’re already a member, we urge you to stay up-to-date on important transportation matters by visiting our site regularly. Whether you’re a member of Mobility 21 or not, please join us on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011 for our 10th Annual Transportation Summit. We’ll have some eye-opening speakers, a chance for you to hear about the latest technologies and techniques that could change the face of transportation, and some of the best networking anywhere in California.

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