Thomas Sowell explains the general principles applicable to the political treatment of our infrastructure needs:
Even if we were to assume that higher tax rates will automatically result in significantly higher tax revenues, the case for throwing more money at infrastructure would still be weak.
Some of the money already appropriated for maintaining and repairing infrastructure is being diverted into other pet projects of politicians.
Money supposedly set aside for repairing potholes and maintaining bridges is diverted to the building of bicycle paths or subsidizing ferries or buses. These other things have more of a political pay-off.
Minnesota may provide a case study illustrating Sowell’s analysis. Andy Aplikowski and Gary Gross oppose the calling of a special session of the Minnesota legislature to address issues related to the bridge before we know why it fell. And the Minneapolis Star Tribune takes a look at the disagreement between Minneapolis Mayor Rybak and Minnesota Governor Pawlenty “over clashing transportation visions for the new span” to replace the fallen bridge. The Minneapolis mayor wants to make room on the new bridge for one of those “pet projects of politicians” to which Sowell refers.
UPDATE: Michael Brodkorb of Minnesota Democrats Exposed writes in a message to those of us concerned about developments in Minnesota:
special session. I would be surprised if a special session is called before labor day. While I’m not advocating a special session being called, I don’t fear it like some apparently do. The public is paying attention and I think it may be an opportunity to talk about priorities. MIchael also report here that Governor Pawlenty is dealing from a position of strength.
Andy Aplikowski responds:
The Feds are kicking in $250 million. Do we even know what the State portion is? Why are we even “putting the gas tax on the table” when, as i said before, there is plenty of money either sitting in rainy day accounts, or somewhere in the $35 billion dollar state budget.
This is a great time to talk about priorities, but whose? Taxpayers’? Or career politicians on both sides of the aisle beholden to special interests? Is Governor Pawlenty opposed to raising the gas tax or not?
I deleted a few of the questions marks that Andy had added to his closing question.
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