The angry men on A.M. radio always say, “the government should be run like a business.”
Usually, this absurd idea doesn’t merit a serious discussion.
But in this case, let’s go with it.
Because the angry men on the radio also say this isn’t the right time for a gas tax increase in Idaho.
That’s funny. Because if you think government should be run like a business, this is the perfect time to raise the gas tax.
Idaho’s roads are in disrepair to the tune of $262 million. According to Gov. Otter, Idaho has 785 bridges that are structurally deficient – the same bridges your family drives across every day. Those costs don’t go away just because we don’t pay them. In fact, they get more expensive.
If the state was run like a business, it would address its transportation shortfalls as wisely as possible by taking advantage of favorable market conditions.
And if you want to fund and build infrastructure, there are some very favorable market conditions right now – freakishly low oil prices.
The savings could be substantial.
The price of liquid asphalt, a major component of our roads, is tied to oil prices. Also, road and bridge construction uses a lot of fuel. The bottom line is lower oil prices equate to more square yards of blacktop per dollar spent.
Yet the angry men on the radio say it’s not a good time. They say the state must allow middle-class families to recover from the Great Recession before burdening them with more taxes. Now ignore the fact that the angry men on the radio have never said it’s the right time to raise taxes, and think about making wise, timely decisions.
Right now raw materials are less expensive, construction is less expensive, and the overall impact of a gas tax increase on the average Idahoan’s wallet would be less burdensome.
The option is waiting until oil prices are higher, construction costs are higher, the shortfall is higher and the burden on taxpayers is higher.
If I was running government like a business, I know what my decision would be.