Monday, April 18, 2005

Gas Tax & Toll Roads Or Is It Gas Tax or Toll Roads?

This AAS editorial that ran last Thursday, Gas tax vs. tolls: Give us the choice, seems pointless to me. The main point of the story is that Austin Mayor Will Wynn and state Rep. Mark Strama want voters in a three county area -- Hays, Travis and Williamson -- to decide whether to have toll roads or increase the gas tax, but not both. Seems logical and democratic to me. There's only one problem, the gas tax increase has not been imposed yet and therefore cannot be voted on. This all comes up because last week at the CAMPO meeting,
"..an estimate by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization staff Monday night that an increase of about 3 cents a gallon to the gasoline tax in its three counties — Travis, Williamson and Hays — would raise enough money to offset the need to charge tolls on planned highway improvements.
Not to fear Rep. Mike Krusee (R- Round Rock) is "dubious" even though he favors the local option tax. His dubiousness makes him a toll and tax Republican. All of this seems pretty straight forward but then we get to what it would take for the local voters to actually be able to vote on this. See if you can stay with me on this:

  • First the legislature has to pass the Gas Tax Bill, HB 5.
  • Next the legislature has to pass a bill ( HB 1964 or SB 478) allowing a regional mobility authority to hold a vote on the gas tax.
  • But the initial tax bill, HB 5, which "smacks of a tax increase" and has little "legislative interest".
  • Therefore the gas tax will not be passed and because of this won't be an option on a local ballot anytime soon.
  • And were back to toll roads only.
So this is just the editorial board of the AAS showing their support for HB 5? Seems like it to me.

Now on to Rep. Krusee. It seems pretty easy for Mike Krusee to be for the local tax option that he knows will never be given to the voters. Think for just a second on the chances of not only a gas tax increase getting through the legislature this session but for them to let these three counties then opt out of that tax. The other thing is he's authoring the bill to raise the gas tax to pay for roads. It seems obvious to me that if both of these bills passed Mike Krusee would be campaigning for this tax increase to stay in place. I wonder how all those Republicans that voted for Mike Krusee feel now? Republicans are against taxes, right? Isn't one party rule great? With no threat of being thrown out of office Mike Krusee can run as a "Republican" and then raise taxes and increase the size of government and not have to worry about being held accountable.

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