Blast 'em

This Blast 'em blog is going to shine a much needed bright light on legislative shanigans. We will provide details of the wrong doing, give names of the doer, and describe the ramifications to the public. Initially we will focus primarily on consumer issues.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

5 MILLION $ FOR ONE CHECK PER MONTH?

It was bound to happen; the 2005 legislature passed a so-called transit tax. They increased the General Excise Tax (GET) from 4% to 4.5%, supposedly to pay for a mass transit system. This increase will raise billions of dollars over a ten year period. Naturally, they raised the tax while having no idea what kind of mass transit system would be built or how much it would cost initially or long-term.

The tax increase goes into effect on 1/1/07 and the Mayor and Governor are fighting over collection of the increase. Governor Lingle claims the state needs a 5 million dollar payment from the city to fund the collection and Mayor Hannemann says that would be nice but the law doesn’t require it.

My question is: why does it cost more to collect 4.5% than 4.0%. The state is already collecting 4.0% if they collect 4.5% and write a check to the state for one ninth of the amount collected (the amount of the transit tax) why does this cost more than collecting 4.0% and not writing any check? So why does Governor Lingle demand five million dollars for setting it up? What am I missing here? I knew with all this new money floating around it wouldn’t be long before the politicians would start fighting over the spoils.

Meanwhile, just like every other time we got serious about mass transit the first thing we spend money on is a study. The others are all gathering dust somewhere, never to see the light of day again while another consulting firm is pulling in hundreds of thousand dollars to do yet another study. On top of all this waste, the last time we looked at mass transit, many of the local architectural firms were awarded contracts to design stations. Each firm designed one unique, grandiose station. This means more money could be wasted then if one firm designed one station that could be replicated for every stop along the transit line.

To make matters worse, the mayor has traveled all over the world to see fixed rail systems, steel on steel, the noisiest systems money can buy. Rubber on steel is very quiet. The vast majority of the public believes the mayor is hell-bent on fixed rail and are convinced this is what we will get, whether or not it is best for us.

Every time mass transit is discussed, a big part of the justification is the millions and millions of federal dollars that will flow into our coffers with little or no concern for the operating costs that will be sucking millions of dollars out of our economy for decades to come.

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