Current mood: disgusted
This is from an email I sent yesterday, inquiring about my thoughts on why tolling I-80 failed. For those who missed the headline, Pennsylvania's plan to put tolls on I-80 was supposed to pay for much needed highway and bridge repairs statewide, and provide a reliable funding stream for PA's municipal mass transit systems.
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I really didn't want to be a wet blanket, but I knew this was coming. This was the third attempt to make this happen, and the third decision was based on the same reasoning as the first and second: It just isn't legal to do what PA wanted to do.
Marilyn Skolnick is right, Act 44 was poorly written. It was agreed to by those who were fighting against it because they knew what the state wanted to do would fail. As it did. Three times now.
To me, it was a screw-up from the word "go", since it basically borrowed future money to pay for current operations. Now we're $2 Billion in the hole and no way to pay for what's already spent, plus interest, let alone anything going forward.
The right and proper thing to do is for Harrisburg to fund transit properly out of the General Fund, and raise taxes to do so. That Just. Ain't. Gonna. Happen. Hasn't ever happened.
Reason is not our friend. Reason falls on deaf ears. Those who are most deaf live in the northern half of the state, but not all. Listen to the so-called logic of leaders on the GOP side like Sam Smith in Punxsutawney, who I find it difficult to say anything about in the presence of a lady, and true nutcases like the rep from Cranberry Twp, Daryl Metcalfe. They always vote against transit. "Just plain mean-spirited" is the most churchlike language I can muster. They, and 80 to 100 like them, are what we are up against.
I've been in the midst of this debate since 1993. It's been going on for far longer than that. I have a newspaper from 1982 with a transit funding story that, if I showed it to you without the date, you would not guess is from nearly 30 years ago.
Please re-read my P-G opinion piece from 2004: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04095/295437-109.stm Precious little has changed.