PAVED WITH PORK
May 20, 2005
The distribution of federal gas tax revenue varies from state to state, with Alaska receiving a whopping $6.60 for every dollar paid by the state's motorists, while Texas, Florida and Georgia are at the bottom, receiving a mere 86 cents per dollar paid, according to Nick Jans, writing in USA Today.
The appropriation of gas tax revenues in funding road projects is determined more by politics than need, notes Jans. Alaska's Rep. Don Young (R), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, spearheaded a recently passed bill -- the Transportation Equity Act -- which he admits is "stuffed like a turkey" with $721 million of projects for the state, including:
- A bridge from Ketchikan to Gravina Island costing $223 million; the route is currently serviced by a 10-minute ferry ride that has worked for years.
- A bridge from Anchorage to a small rural port with just one tenant and a few homes; the bill contributes $200 million to the project, which is expected to cost at least $1.5 billion.
- A 68-mile access road to Juneau costing $284 million, of which the Transportation Equity Act provides $15 million to begin construction; but area residents prefer improving the existing ferry system instead of building the new road.
Furthermore, money is being diverted away from the nation's 150,000 bridges, 7,500 miles of interstate highway and an additional 28,000 miles of other roads that are in need of repair, says Jans.
Young is just one of many politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, who are adept at bringing home the bacon to their home states. The problem extends beyond the Transportation Equity Act, says Jans, to include national security, armed services and a host of other issues. The process of funding based on clout and seniority needs to change to prevent further abuse of taxpayer dollars, says Jans.
Source: Nick Jans, "Alaska Thanks You," USA Today, May 18, 2005.
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