A shell game on road repairs

The proposal by Gov. Neil Abercrombie and legislators to raise car registration and weight fees by an average of $50 per vehicle is a case study of why people are so cynical about the state’s gyrations to balance an $800 million budget deficit.

Lawmakers say they must raise vehicle fees because the state needs $86 million a year to finance road repairs and there’s only $17 million left in the highway fund to pay for the work.

The choice to taxpayers, they say, is to pay the higher fees or live with Hawaii’s disgracefully potholed roads.

The fallacy in that is, we’ve already paid to fix the roads.

Existing fees have produced plenty enough to keep our roads in good repair, with the fund over $100 million at times. It’s currently light and the roads unfixed only because the Legislature siphoned $145 million from the repair fund to pay for non-highway projects.

The current move to raise vehicle fees carries no guarantee that the Legislature won’t rob the repair fund again once it’s replenished, leaving us right back where we started.

These backdoor tax increases sting, and it’s a sucker bet for taxpayers to quietly accept higher vehicle fees without demanding assurances that lawmakers will discipline themselves and manage the money honestly for its intended purpose.

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14 Comments on “A shell game on road repairs”

  1. zzzzzing Says:

    Sadly, the way our roads supposedly get ‘fixed’ by our lovely union workers, even if the funds were there, we’d still be driving on roads full of potholes.

  2. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Much of the road repair work – major stuff, not just fixing potholes – is outsourced to private sector construction companies.

    Stop attacking unionized workers.It’s not as if they cash their paychecks and send the money overseas. They spend it here in Hawai`i and get/keep other people employed.

    I’ve worked in both union and non-union businesses. There’s a huge difference in the way that employees are treated and how well they work.

  3. zzzzzz Says:

    It’s not just the DOT funds that at least some of the legislators want to raid. Any state agency with any money from any source–e.g., season ticket money from UH Football, the cell phone 911 tax–are targets for legislative raids.

  4. Guido Sarducci Says:

    “We pretend to work. They pretend to pay us.” — Anonymous Russian worker describing Soviet system

  5. Jim Loomis Says:

    It is SO tiresome to keep hearing how everything is the fault of union workers! The same people insist that there are simple solutions to complex problems.

  6. Bob Farrell Says:

    Funds collected for a specific purpose should be legally bound to that purpose with the only exception the elimination of the reason for the fund in the first place. Thus, the hurricane relief fund could only be used for some other purpose if the situation changed so that there is no further need for hurricane relief funds. Similarly, the fund to repair highways cannot be raided unless there will not ever be a need to repair highways again!

  7. Bob Farrell Says:

    Then there is the idiocy of a beautiful repaving project, like that on Wilder Avenue, and soon as it’s finished, they start digging up the new pavement! This is absurd! There should be a position dedicated to organizing when roads are dug up and when they are repaved, at least out to one year, better yet two or three!

  8. Michael Says:

    Before any road work should continue, underground piping should be fixed as a priority. Once roads are repaved and a pipe burst, back to square one again. Dig up, fix pipes, cover, repave. Traffic delay again.

    Roads by Hospitals should be repaved first.
    It is a bumpy ride to Hospital and adding more trauma to emergency victims.

    Heavier vehicles put more damage on roads and can create problems like sink holes and the weight of a vehicle can damage pipes underneath. Electric Cars are not so light since they contain batteries which are heavy.

    I have seen some people in my neighborhood buy quick cement and fill pot holes on their road that runs by their homes. The whole neighborhood followed.
    May not look pretty but at least the roads are smooth. The City and County saw that and immediately set a crew out to repave the whole road.

  9. Richard Gozinya Says:

    I don’t know about the canoe, but my wallet is going to huli pretty soon.

  10. shaftalley Says:

    don’t vote for these same politicians next time.

  11. wlsc Says:

    I’d be in favor of higher taxes for the slew of heavier vehicles (SUVs, 4X4s, etc.) that undoubtedly create greater wear & tear on our roadways than do the civics & minis.

    Even better, maybe higher vehicles taxes will get some of these behemoths off the roads permanently because they’ll be too expensive to own!

  12. zzzzzz Says:

    @shaftalley–easy to say, but when there are no other choices, even that won’t get them out of office.

  13. charles Says:

    @zzzzzz,unless, of course, you run.

  14. zzzzzz Says:

    @charles–Would you vote for me?

    While that would alleviate the situation somewhat, one person can only run for one office per election.

    But you do bring up part of the problem–it is getting more difficult, and more expensive, for someone without extensive political connections to run a competitive campaign. There are a few exceptions, but I have never had an on-air TV or radio job, nor been an outstanding high school athlete. I wasn’t even my high school class or ASUH president.

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