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State Budget Deal

What’s to like:

  1. No tax increases.
  2. Some caps on spending
  3. Rendell doesn’t get his smoking ban

What’s not to like:

  1. I-80 tolls will be forthcoming
  2. SEPTA once again blackmails more money from the state budget with threatened fare hikes and service cuts.

9 Responses to “State Budget Deal”

  1. Dano says:

    So, how many years will it be before I-80 makes the state any money? How much money has to be spent first? Toll booths and construction crews aren’t free.

  2. Brad says:

    They don’t have to build toll booths. They could use the same technology that the 407 Electronic Toll Road in Toronto does.

    You drive on the 407, you get a bill sent to you. I think I-80 should work the same way. And if you don’t like the idea of cameras snapping photos of your license plate, there are lots of other Roads in PA to take you where you want to go.

  3. Sebastian says:

    Then you get into the problem of billing. Instead of building edifices on the highway to collect tolls, you built a government bureaucracy to do it. Either way, state workers win at the expense of the citizen.

  4. Brad says:

    Doesn’t that bureacracy exist already with the turnpike commission? And we already bill and ticket people who use EZPass booths who don’t have a working transponder. The system is already there, and we’re paying for it already. I-80 tolls should be just gravy – gravy earmarked for transportation infrastructure improvements only. I will be just as pissed as you if there isn’t some real progress made in the quality of PA roads and rail.

  5. Sebastian says:

    Sort of. The number of violators is only a fraction of the volume you’d have to handle if you were billing everyone who went down the road who didn’t have an EZPass transponder.

  6. Dano says:

    And what about the interstate trucking that happens? The trailer plates typically don’t match the driver (or even the trucking company).

    And you’d still have to build the technological infrastructure and wire a chuck of rural PA. The cost of setup and the transfer of some of the trucking/traffic to side roads (and the resulting increase of cost to the local boroughs), just isn’t worth it. Manage the funds you do have, don’t just come up with new ways to take folks money. And tapping the DMV database to bill a car (not the actual driver) just seems like an abuse of the system to me.

  7. Brad says:

    According to the 407 ETR website, the trucks have to have a transponder, but I can think of an easier way around that: snap the front of the truck – doesn’t the front have a plate?

    The thing is that PA roads were never designed to handle this much traffic, and we have a lot of roads – I read somewhere that we have the most linear miles of roads than any other state. Our roads are also routinely voted at or near the bottom of truckers’ and drivers’ surveys. The only way we can “manage” with the funds we have is to either close roads, not repair others, let mass transit whither on the vine, and then insist that people sit in traffic on narrow roads. Unlike a lot of states, PA has no doctrine that says the infrastructure must grow with the development.

    Besides, isn’t having a toll road that only affects users of the road better than raising everyone’s taxes? Yeah, I’d rather the government get out of most the business its in and concentrate on the three P’s: Pipes, Police, and Pavement. But they don’t, and until they do, we have to live with it. I think tolling I-80 is a good idea opposed to all the other alternatives.

  8. Sebastian says:

    I generally actually do favor funding roads from tax revenue since they are a public good, and it’s a good that can’t really be realistically provided for by private entities, at least not without a log of state involvement. Tolling roads mean that people using those roads are paying a fee in addition to having their tax money go to paying for the roads everyone else is driving on. There are instances when I don’t have a problem with tolls: for unusual infrastructure like bridges, tunnels, etc.

    I would accept having my taxes raised to pay for better roads. My problem with Rendell’s budget was that it was bloated with a lot of other crap we don’t need to be dealing with, like trying to become energy independent. I’m glad the worst of the stuff got stripped out, so I’ll grudgingly accept I-80 tolls, but I’d prefer it if thre three P’s (I like that term) were paid for out of the state treasuries, and not by use fees.

  9. Dano says:

    Guess I just feel that making I-80 a toll road will cause more problems then it solves. I do agree with Sebastian in one regard, its better than the other crap Rendell’s budget had in it.

    Doesn’t mean that I have to like it tho’.

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