File this under unintended consequences of government intervention and environmental madness. What happens when you lose money to fund maintenance of the highway infrastructure? Your government finds clever ways to steal more of your money, and your freedoms. Just like the tobacco tax, it was suppose to fund all these health care programs, and when people stopped smoking, the revenue dried up, and the government now wants to tax soft drinks to recoup that lost revenue. Now if people stop drinking soft drinks, then what? What does the government tax next?
So now, the government wants to tax you by the miles you drive in your car. The government wants cars to be fitted with GPS devices so they can track the miles you drive and bill you accordingly. Wouldn’t that open the door to government spying on its citizens?
With more gas efficient cars and the new electric cars, gasoline tax revenues are declining. But wait, didn’t Obama say he wants $53 Billion to build a High-Speed Rail system. Isn’t Obama’s plan going to take you out of your car and make you ride the train? Where’s that money coming from?
One the ideas are to start another Cash for Clunkers program. That program where people turned in their old cars for incentives to buy either electric cars or more fuel efficient cars. This was same program that wasted billions of dollars and destroyed millions of cars. It wasn’t necessary.
It looks like General Motors is attempting to replace it’s own consumer incentives with tax payer money. The car company, bailed out of bankruptcy in 2009 by the American tax payer, appears to be turning the government into an automatic rebate provider.
Is the United States really prepared to deal with another tax payer paid for deal that will only benefit the now government owned GM? After all, did Cash for Clunkers part one really work out for the tax payers and auto dealers?
General Motors electric car costs $41,000 dollars, and GM wants the taxpayers monies to pay for the $7,500 rebate to incentivize people to buy GM’s electric car, the Volt. It all seems like contradiction at taxpayers’ expense. Why should the taxpayers pay for rebates?
In Europe, their solution is to ban conventional automobiles all together. The European socialists have teamed up with communist’s environmentalist to enforce a single transportation mode in the hopes it will help reduce CO2 emissions. As crazy as that sounds, it’s very much on the minds of American environmental nutcases. From one extreme to another.
This led me to question how fuel taxes are being used here in Hawai’i. An amendment to the County of Hawai’i’s gas tax now includes the maintenance of private subdivision roads. Currently, gas taxes are set aside to maintain the public roads, bridges, overpasses and these tax dollars are subsidized by Federal highway funds. This is also known as the “Highway Fund“.
Before Statehood, on the Big Island of Hawai’i, in the southern districts of Puna and Ka’u, many of the roads were not under the jurisdiction of the County. The subdivisions were considered privately owned lots on the volcanic flats where country infrastructure was not in place. The roads were owned by the subdivision lot owners and the road maintenance was paid for by the lot owners.
A recent bill passed by the Hawai’i State Legislature changes how fuel taxes are used on the Big Island of Hawai’i. H.B. No. 1626 was introduced and passed. The bill allows Hawai’i County to allow the fuel tax revenues to include maintenance of private subdivision roads.
There were more people in favor of the bill’s passage than there were opposed.
At first glance, the bill seems reasonable enough; allow fuel tax revenues to be used to maintain private subdivision roads. There are many justifiable reasons for the amendment of the Hawai’i fuel tax, but are there hidden consequences? It is true that some subdivisions roads are deplorable, to the point of impassable. In the 1960’s the courts ruled that residents of the subdivisions must pay a road maintenance fee for the maintenance of the roads. This ruling was applied to homeowner’s deeds. However, there were many homeowners that lived there before statehood. It has been huge legal contention between those that have to pay road maintenance fees, and those that either refuses to pay or do not fall under the courts actions. What is the rate of compliance? 60%, 70%?
The Tax Foundation of Hawai’i had a interesting spin on this. They argue that the County will be exposed to some liability issues should an incident occur. This might create more problems than it solves. Others argue that people knew full well what they were getting into before purchasing property in these subdivisions, or at least they should have. Others like the roads in their current state to reduce traffic and to discourage speeders on the roads.
However, if you opposed the bill, you might get an email like this one:
I doubt very much these people wanted a understanding of anyone’s opposition to the bill and to have a discussion about it. Probably more likely an effort to try and change your mind, or else. It is a concern that some people would troll through public testimony looking for, and targeting people, that disagree with any legislation. Intimidation?
Those that are by law required to pay Mandatory Road Maintenance fees wonder how this will affect their status. Do you still have to pay your road maintenance fees? The bill doesn’t address this question, and neither does it address how the council will distribute these funds. There are no fiscal notes to weigh the immediate and future costs of the bill.
While the bill might be considered a “Good Intention“, there are usually consequences to such acts. There is no fuel tax surplus, but there might be a increase of fuel taxes to meet the demand of road maintenance. As the price of gas increases due to an inept Obama administration’s deliberate slowdown of energy production, and a Hawai’i democrat governor just itching to raise taxes, there’s very little promise of our roads being maintained by the state’s highway fund anytime soon. What is certain is that gas taxes will go up.
A curious section in the bill states that the act will take effect on July 1, 2030. Who knows what kind of transportation vehicles we’ll have then, and if we’ll be even using gasoline to power them.
What’s For Dinner?
Grilled Ono Fish over Steamed Jasmine Rice and Vegetables with a Shrimp Cream Sauce