Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday tips: Demand the State of California for a business-friendly tax code

As the Riverside Transit Agency finalizes an updated Short Range Transit Plan, the county itself could be experiencing unprecedented present-day transportation circumstances. Citizens have long been willing to tax themselves for better transportation infrastructure and improved transit service; we're beginning to see some fruits of it. However, despite the fact that we are paying some of the highest taxes around, improvement projects still appear to be moving along at a snail's pace.

An RTA bus. To be fair, we have seen some robust progress over the last decade. RTA bus patrons who have long demanded for late night bus service and better inter-regional connections will finally see these requests put into action within the next few years. LA's Metro Rail and Metro Rapid network has blossomed. Downtown San Bernardino will soon have a north/south BRT line. Down south, the once car-centric I-15 freeway through San Diego County is now a multi-modal corridor with HOT lanes that support free non-transponder carpooling, numerous HOV park & ride facilities, improved traffic flow, and a soon-to-be all-day express BRT line between Escondido and Downtown San Diego. However, with the amount of taxes we're paying, we really should have this type of first-rate infrastructure already in operations in the Inland Empire and throughout the state.

The 91 Freeway corridor between the Inland Empire and Orange County has long been the miserable car-oriented Corona Crawl. Traffic is jammed during peak hours and weekends. HOV demands are high; transit services remain rush-hour oriented. Non-FasTrak 3+ HOV's including private buses and motorcycles cannot use the high occupancy express lanes. The county is going into nearly a half billion dollars in debt to address this because not enough money is coming from the state. Even though the 91 corridor will see transit and highway improvements down the road, RCTC must wait out on fixing another serious traffic bottleneck along the I-15 through El Cerrito and Dos Lagos. Expect the Corona Crawl to merely shift to the east for now.

Getting many of The Transit Coalition's campaigns and future visions from concept to reality in a timely manner are beyond the power of local transportation agencies. The state certainly has some work to do. Here are some facts:
  • Californians are paying some of the highest taxes in the nation.
  • Motorists pay the most state taxes at the gas pump, scheduled to go up again this July, 2013.
  • Even with these high taxes, much of our transportation infrastructure remains substandard and many corridors car oriented.
  • The high cost of doing business in California has encouraged businesses to move out of the state which seriously negates the private job market and local tax revenue which would normally pay for transportation.
Marketplace job creation is a key to a healthy economy and a funded robust transportation network. The state must get the private sector back to growing the economy of the state and ensure our tax money is making it to our transportation infrastructure.

Here is today's tip:
  • Demand the state to support laws that create private sector jobs and marketplace investments. Any proposals that drive out businesses elsewhere needs to be questioned and/or opposed.
  • Continue to hold the state accountable for its spending actions. Demand that a fair portion of the state money makes it to the rails and highways as it should.

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