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(CityLab)   The US highway trust fund is out of money. Enjoy your summer road trip   (citylab.com) divider line 180
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6301 clicks; posted to Main » on 04 Jul 2014 at 10:54 AM (21 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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ZAZ [TotalFark]
2014-07-04 05:45:49 PM  
Mister Peejay

Massachusetts used to have an alternative percentage or pennies tax: the greater of 19.1% of wholesale price or $0.21 per gallon. In practice it was 21 cents. When the wholesale price went over a dollar in 2000 the legislature, fearing voter revolt, repealed the percentage minimum. They recently raised the tax and made it inflation indexed, because a percentage was too simple. Voters are likely to repeal inflation indexing in November.

I dislike both sides in this fight. Politicians who steal tax money to use against the people who pay it, while proposing more and more complex solutions to problems they created. Taxpayers who lose their minds over a tiny tax.
 
2014-07-04 05:57:19 PM  

ZAZ: Taxpayers who lose their minds over a tiny tax.


Those so-called "tiny taxes" add up. It's financial death by a thousand paper cuts.

One of my coworkers makes only 45k a year, yet she doesn't see over 40% of her pay in her check. Only some of it is health insurance co-pay. The rest is taxes.
 
2014-07-04 06:02:51 PM  
Dear Gubmint: STFU & fix the roads. Take the money from: Pentagon, YOU, social services and foreign aid. Thanks!
 
2014-07-04 06:12:43 PM  

kendelrio: RareChimer: Change gas taxes. Make them dependent on mileage traveled and on vehicle weight. Make fines on odometer tampering and weight fraud massive. Increase as necessary to keep the trust funded 100%. Watch people start demanding more transit and sustainable commute options. Then, slow road construction, focus on repairs and enhancements, and call it a win.

Just as with parking, Americans have lived too long with heavily subsidized driving expenses and have literally built their living environment around it. Well, such subsidies aren't fiscally let alone ecologically sustainable.

Don't bail out the trust fund. Make those who damage the roads pay for it.

Oh, the per-gallon tax should stay as well. This would become a sin tax that gives intrinsic incentive to buy more fuel efficient vehicles. The funds from this tax should go to facilitating sustainable walkabity improvements, bicycle improvements, and the expansion of transit.

You are an ass. The per gallon tax is supposed to pay for road infrastructure. If you want to go to odometer reading, fine! Either way you are paying for use. The people who would bitxh the most about odometer tax are the ones who buy the hybrids. The "heavy users" already pay additional taxes. Have you ever seen an IMCA sticker on commercial vehicles???

Want to tax odometers? Fine. I drive less than 10k miles a year.

Want to tax gallons used? Good. The majority of my miles are on a motorcycle.


Taxing both is asinine.


If the infrastructure keeps deteriorating at the present rate, you're gonna need a half-track to get around,,
 
2014-07-04 06:23:48 PM  

mrmopar5287: We had the Trillion dollar Spendulous bill that was full of "shovel ready" jobs to fix roads, bridges, etc. but the money went to the unions instead.

That, and if you'd quit spending motor fuel tax money on rail and bike trail projects that serve and extreme minority of people, you'd probably have money to fix the roads.  When I fuel my car I am not really expecting my money to go fun Amtrak.


Infrastructure doesn't just mean roads you moron, it means trains, buses, and other methods of transportation and energy.
 
2014-07-04 06:30:51 PM  

peterthx: One of my coworkers makes only 45k a year, yet she doesn't see over 40% of her pay in her check. Only some of it is health insurance co-pay. The rest is taxes.


Ask her how much she gets back in a refund. It's probably a pretty sizable one. Her federal income tax liability on a $45k income (assuming standard deduction, no pre-tax deductions and single filing status) is $4,774. (10.6% marginal rate, 15% tax bracket). If she is on a bi-weekly pay schedule, she should have $183.61 in federal income tax taken out per check.
 
2014-07-04 06:41:45 PM  

rewind2846: hasty ambush: How will they ever get by?

And this is why we can't have nice things.
Guess what? Sh*t costs money. You want sh*t. you have to pay for it. Taxes are the dues you pay to live in a first world nation.


I have a right to expect o get my monies worth and we are being grossly overcharged for the quality of what government  is delivering.

We are not getting our monies worth so why should we give them even more money to waste?  Tell me what a transportation museum or a bike lane has to do with keeping  bridges repaired and roads paved?

Like the Memphis VA shutting down a therapeutic pool because they claim they don't have the money but still handing out millions in bonuses despite being one of the worst performing VA regions.

Britain runs its entire NHS on the same mount of money we give to the VA , why can't eh VA do a better job?

So Spare me this  sh*t cost money lecture.  You would not keep quite if your auto repair guy or plumber overcharged you, did a lousy job or billed you and never showed up.  Why do you put up with it from government employees
 
2014-07-04 06:42:21 PM  

dustman81: peterthx: One of my coworkers makes only 45k a year, yet she doesn't see over 40% of her pay in her check. Only some of it is health insurance co-pay. The rest is taxes.

Ask her how much she gets back in a refund. It's probably a pretty sizable one. Her federal income tax liability on a $45k income (assuming standard deduction, no pre-tax deductions and single filing status) is $4,774. (10.6% marginal rate, 15% tax bracket). If she is on a bi-weekly pay schedule, she should have $183.61 in federal income tax taken out per check.


We're in CA. There's still SSN, state tax, medicare, retirement, CASDI, and what the union takes out.

I didn't even mention that nearly everything we purchase, save for some food (which have been steadily rising in prices), is sales taxed at 9.25% (state, local, county).

Every little bit combined makes a huge difference. So when they announce a new tax or a raise in a tax it does hurt everyone, not just the fat cats.
 
2014-07-04 07:18:02 PM  

DarkSoulNoHope: mrmopar5287: We had the Trillion dollar Spendulous bill that was full of "shovel ready" jobs to fix roads, bridges, etc. but the money went to the unions instead.

That, and if you'd quit spending motor fuel tax money on rail and bike trail projects that serve and extreme minority of people, you'd probably have money to fix the roads.  When I fuel my car I am not really expecting my money to go fun Amtrak.

Infrastructure doesn't just mean roads you moron, it means trains, buses, and other methods of transportation and energy. New decks, swimming pools, mansions, vacations and other forms of luxury.


FTFY
 
2014-07-04 07:21:40 PM  

RareChimer: 1. Most bicyclists are automobile owners and gas buyers as well. Thus, they pay gas taxes.

2. The Highway Trust Fund SHOULD be getting its money from fuel taxes. Currently, it gets about half its money from fuel taxes. The rest comes from income taxes. Thus, even cyclists who don't buy gasoline pay into the system... much more than they get out of it in fact.

3. Bicycles do immeasurably small damage to the roads that are built for automobiles. But if you want to use my plan based on mileage and bicycle mass, I'm fairly certain most cyclists would jump at the opportunity to pay $.0004/year to get angry motorists to quit saying, "You don't pay a road tax. Get off the road!"

4. While bicycles are afforded the same rights and responsibilities of motor vehicles drivers in most states (including occupying the center of the lane when the right hand edge of the road is hazardous or the lane is too narrow to safely share side-by-side with a motor vehicle), all states have laws that preclude them from freeways unless there is no detour available. (Fun fact-- CalTrans facilitates bicycle transportation on Interstate 5 between Camp Pendleton and Oceanside when the marine base closes for ops or training.)


1.  I pointed out that if a bicycle owner has a car he's paying taxes.  But he's paying taxes for the car, not the bike.

2.  HTF only gets money from income taxes when it's going broke and Congress bails it out from the general fund.  If all the money collected from gas taxes went to road building and repair, it wouldn't run out of money so often.  Congress just uses HTF as another barrel of pork and then needs to bail it out.

3.  You're right.  You don't do diddly squat damage to roads built for cars with your bikes.  What I object to is the 10% of HTF dollars that are mandated to be spent on bike paths.  If you want bike paths, GREAT!  Find another funding source.  As I pointed out in 2 - Congress just uses HTF as another slush fund from which to buy votes and then they wonder where the money went.  And bike paths aren't even the biggest waste of money from HTF that has nothing to do with building or repairing roads.

4.  It's the feds that prohibit bikes - as well as farm implements, dune buggies, horse and buggies, etc. - from freeways.  But they also mandated a bridge over the freeway for the bike path just down the road from here.  It's right next to a 5 lane overpass that has sidewalks on both sides.  Cost over a million dollars.  I go under it frequently.  I have never seen a bicycle or a pedestrian on it.  Sure is pretty, though.  Wonder how many potholes they could have fixed with all that money.

I'm not trying to pick on bike riders.  Yeah, some of them annoy me to no end but, then again, so do a lot of drivers.  But this thread is about the Highway Trust Fund running out of money and there's this big emergency that politicians and party aparatchiks are lining up to make political hay out of.  It's no damned wonder the HTF is out of money - Congress has exercised the same lack of fiscal restraint and vote buying prowess with it that it has with every other program that's come down the pike.  Bike paths are one way Congress has pissed me off - not that the bike paths exist but that the government mandates them, takes the money out of the trust fund and then claims some terrible emergency that we are all going to have to pay for.
 
2014-07-04 07:29:41 PM  

alternaloser: lizyrd: alternaloser: the states have no rights vs. the federal government as per the supremacy clause.

Bzzzt.  Wrong answer.

The supremacy clause only makes federal law supersede state law when the two conflict. The Tenth Amendment is fairly clear that the federal government only has the powers enumerated in the Constitution, and that the states have all other power not specifically prohibited by the Constitution. The federal government is not granted the power to, say, determine the legal drinking age. Nor are the states prohibited from such a determination.  It's purely a states' issue.  The supremacy clause does not apply.  It's exactly why there is no national seatbelt law, or national drinking age, or national BAC limit, despite the feds' obvious interest in regulating these issues.  However, the feds have gotten 98% compliance on the seatbelt thing and, as far as I know, 100% compliance on the drinking age through bribery.

Federal highway dollars (and other federal disbursements) are used to goad the states into doing the federal government's bidding.  Lose a percentage here for drinking age under 21, a percentage there for primary seatbelt stops, a little more for having DUI set at .10 instead of .08...and you're suddenly talking real money.  It doesn't matter that it should be a state issue, or that the state voters may not want it, or that state lawmakers may not want it.  The states can't afford to lose billions in federal money, because it isn't like a state's residents will get a lower federal tax rate just because the state is ineligible for highway funding.

You're wrong:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supremacy_Clause


Yep, I'm wrong. From your link:
The supremacy of federal law over state law only applies if Congress is acting in pursuance of its constitutionally authorized powers.

I mean, c'mon man, it's the second paragraph.
 
2014-07-04 07:31:56 PM  

peterthx: ZAZ: Taxpayers who lose their minds over a tiny tax.

Those so-called "tiny taxes" add up. It's financial death by a thousand paper cuts.

One of my coworkers makes only 45k a year, yet she doesn't see over 40% of her pay in her check. Only some of it is health insurance co-pay. The rest is taxes.


I'm curious what state that's in.  I know that at around $40k/yr in Oregon (where we have a state income tax but no sales tax) 9% is the rate of state taxes she'd be paying, and I think that's the highest in the country for that pay rate.  At federal and state rates, including social security, medicare, federal and state income taxes, and unemployment insurance withholding adds up to about 20-25% of your income.

I don't believe taxes are taking up 60% of her income, but maybe there are cities with incredibly high tax rates that I'm not aware of.
 
2014-07-04 07:33:30 PM  

peterthx: We're in CA. There's still SSN, state tax, medicare, retirement, CASDI, and what the union takes out.


Retirement and what the union takes are not taxes.
 
2014-07-04 07:36:26 PM  

Mr. Right: It's the feds that prohibit bikes - as well as farm implements, dune buggies, horse and buggies, etc. - from freeways.


Incorrect.
 
2014-07-04 07:54:23 PM  

Mr. Right: We could authorize the Keystone Pipeline. That wold create lots of jobs, reduce our dependance of foreign energy, make Canada happy (we ought to be nice to any country that's trying to be nice to us), fractionally lower the cost of energy which would be a real bonus to middle and lower income folks. Who could then afford to buy more gas. Which would put more money into the Highway Trust Fund.


Lowering the price of oil a tiny bit won't do much. The problem is that in the 1990s the big oil companies bought up all the "excess" refining capability and shut it down. Now they match capacity with what they feel is peak demand (and match production with demand for highest profit) so there's not much point in more oil because the amount of gasoline can't be increased significantly nor independently from the bigs who are gaming for the greatest profit.
 
2014-07-04 08:07:29 PM  

Mister Peejay: FourDirections:

Or... is that the message?  The true cause of the fall of society is some sort of Assless Chaps Event Horizon?


Have you never tried to pull off leather pants when you're sweaty?


Assless chaps are simply the logical conjunction of two desires; 1) to wear leather pants 2) to not fill those leather pants with your own excrement. Everytime.
 
2014-07-04 08:26:18 PM  

queezyweezel: RareChimer: Change gas taxes. Make them dependent on mileage traveled and on vehicle weight. Make fines on odometer tampering and weight fraud massive. Increase as necessary to keep the trust funded 100%. Watch people start demanding more transit and sustainable commute options. Then, slow road construction, focus on repairs and enhancements, and call it a win.

Just as with parking, Americans have lived too long with heavily subsidized driving expenses and have literally built their living environment around it. Well, such subsidies aren't fiscally let alone ecologically sustainable.

Don't bail out the trust fund. Make those who damage the roads pay for it.

Oh, the per-gallon tax should stay as well. This would become a sin tax that gives intrinsic incentive to buy more fuel efficient vehicles. The funds from this tax should go to facilitating sustainable walkabity improvements, bicycle improvements, and the expansion of transit.

Actually, a Prius does more damage to the road than a dodge ram.  the force applied in PSI by the contact patch of the tire is much higher for the little tires, and they hurt the pavement.  Your ecobox is destroying our roads!


Then my Prius C is the mostest damaging of all the Prii.  Hurruh!!
 
2014-07-04 08:32:32 PM  

johnny_vegas: BrassArt: RareChimer: Change gas taxes. Make them dependent on mileage traveled and on vehicle weight. Make fines on odometer tampering and weight fraud massive. Increase as necessary to keep the trust funded 100%. Watch people start demanding more transit and sustainable commute options. Then, slow road construction, focus on repairs and enhancements, and call it a win.

Just as with parking, Americans have lived too long with heavily subsidized driving expenses and have literally built their living environment around it. Well, such subsidies aren't fiscally let alone ecologically sustainable.

Don't bail out the trust fund. Make those who damage the roads pay for it.

Oh, the per-gallon tax should stay as well. This would become a sin tax that gives intrinsic incentive to buy more fuel efficient vehicles. The funds from this tax should go to facilitating sustainable walkabity improvements, bicycle improvements, and the expansion of transit.

Spoken like a true parents-basement dweller.

right, and when the sin tax causes people to change their habits the revenue from that tax goes away and there goes the infrastructure and transportation funding source.

/cunning plan


Well, that's, like, your opinion, man.  He's punishing people he considers bad, and that's all that matters.  They're doing it wrong and they have to pay.
 
2014-07-04 09:39:35 PM  

hasty ambush: I have a right to expect o get my monies worth and we are being grossly overcharged for the quality of what government is delivering.


Here's a clue - it ain't all about you. Your taxes and mine go to fund a plethora of things, most of which I will never see or use. But someone will, and that is what they are for. Those things are what make life easier for those who don't need them as well as for those who do. We don't even come close in what we pay in taxes compared to the rest of the industrial world, so spare me the "grossly overcharged" hyperbole. If you want the services that those countries provide, then you will pay their tax rate. Things cost what they cost.

hasty ambush: Britain runs its entire NHS on the same mount of money we give to the VA , why can't eh VA do a better job?


Because Britain not only has a much smaller population, but it hasn't had any major wars since WWII (the Falklands doesn't count). In the meantime the US has had the Korean Conflict (which Britain assisted in), the Vietnam War, and all the adventures in the middle east under Reagan and subsequent Republican presidents as well as Bosnia and other exercises in humanitarianism under Clinton. That's thousands and thousands of veterans that need care 50 years ago, now and 50 years from now, something Britain doesn't have to deal with at a hell of a lot more expense per person. Mental health care, plastic surgery, prosthetics, counseling, physical therapy, and other costs civilians do not incur.

Also, WTF is your problem with taking care of the people this country sends to be killed for their politics?
Nobody asked how much it would cost when they were sent, so STFU about how much it costs to fix them when they come back.
 
2014-07-04 10:26:54 PM  

davidphogan: I don't believe taxes are taking up 60% of her income, but maybe there are cities with incredibly high tax rates that I'm not aware of.


40%

davidphogan: peterthx: We're in CA. There's still SSN, state tax, medicare, retirement, CASDI, and what the union takes out.

Retirement and what the union takes are not taxes.


Unfortunately those are mandatory, so yes they're not taxes but they're not optional deductions either.
 
2014-07-05 12:39:08 AM  

DarkSoulNoHope: Infrastructure doesn't just mean roads you moron, it means trains, buses, and other methods of transportation and energy.


Then let the bus riders pay for their share with the bus fare, the train riders pay for their share with the train fare.  Don't tell me that I have to pay for them to get a cheap ride.
 
2014-07-05 12:52:20 AM  

mrmopar5287: DarkSoulNoHope: Infrastructure doesn't just mean roads you moron, it means trains, buses, and other methods of transportation and energy.

Then let the bus riders pay for their share with the bus fare, the train riders pay for their share with the train fare.  Don't tell me that I have to pay for them to get a cheap ride.


This is a classic example of "I got mine, fark you".
Here's a tiny little fact... can you imagine how many more cars there would be on the roads were there not alternatives to them? Your hallowed automobile would go nowhere, as there would be traffic jams in most major cities 24 hours a day.
Also, why should people who take the train pay for your activities on roads and highways with their taxes?
You live here, you contribute. You don't like that, then GTFO. That's what it means to live in a country/state/county/city with other people. It ain't all about you.
 
2014-07-05 01:06:23 AM  

Mr. Right: We could authorize the Keystone Pipeline. That wold create lots of jobs, reduce our dependance of foreign energy,


How will shipping oil OUT of the country reduce our dependence on foreign energy?

You did know that the purpose of the Keystone Pipeline is to carry oil to the coast where it can be put on tankers and sent to other countries, right?
 
2014-07-05 04:15:08 AM  

gingerjet: RareChimer: Change gas taxes. Make them dependent on mileage traveled and on vehicle weight. Make fines on odometer tampering and weight fraud massive. Increase as necessary to keep the trust funded 100%. Watch people start demanding more transit and sustainable commute options. Then, slow road construction, focus on repairs and enhancements, and call it a win.

Exactly how do you plan on enforcing that?


Yeah how would the government even know how much I drive? Are we going to hire odometer inspectors everywhere?
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2014-07-05 08:25:16 AM  
ransack.: odometer inspectors

Where I live the state checks your odometer reading every year as part of the mandatory inspection.
 
2014-07-05 08:55:40 AM  

ZAZ: ransack.: odometer inspectors

Where I live the state checks your odometer reading every year as part of the mandatory inspection.


Where I live, there is no state inspection.  There is no requirement for a working odometer (or speedometer, for that matter, although "I don't know how fast I was going" is not a viable defense for speeding) and they only time they care about the odometer reading is when you get your title transferred.  I always check the box that says the odometer is inoperative or inaccurate because I don't know the car's history.
 
2014-07-05 09:26:56 AM  

Mister Peejay: ZAZ: ransack.: odometer inspectors

Where I live the state checks your odometer reading every year as part of the mandatory inspection.

Where I live, there is no state inspection.  There is no requirement for a working odometer (or speedometer, for that matter, although "I don't know how fast I was going" is not a viable defense for speeding) and they only time they care about the odometer reading is when you get your title transferred.  I always check the box that says the odometer is inoperative or inaccurate because I don't know the car's history.


Yeah no vehicle inspection of any sort here in Indiana either.
 
2014-07-05 09:47:38 AM  
The Interstate System was built back in the 50's and 60s'. Those roads and bridges are now at or past their expected life times, and need to be replaced. Not repaired, but replaced. NC is replacing part of I-40's pavement here in Raleigh; it's costing several hundred million dollars just for a few miles of road.  Pavement designs have to be thicker thanks to better understanding of how to spread the loading out as well as heavier vehicles, and traffic volumes have increased, requiring more lanes. Meanwhile the gas taxes haven't gone up since...well it's been a long time since they increased.  States have been trying to do more with less and less Federal money for at least half my career as a highway design engineer, reducing design standards where they don't impact safety, reducing maintenance and stretching construction times and work out as long as they can.  If the gas tax is not increased we're basically looking at a big economic and transportation impact for states all across the country, not to mention the increased safety risk.

Oh btw it's not just highways and roads that are falling apart. Infrastructure also includes, power transmission systems, water and wastewater systems, water transportation and dams.
 
2014-07-05 10:22:10 AM  
rewind2846: mrmopar5287: DarkSoulNoHope: Infrastructure doesn't just mean roads you moron, it means trains, buses, and other methods of transportation and energy.

Then let the bus riders pay for their share with the bus fare, the train riders pay for their share with the train fare.  Don't tell me that I have to pay for them to get a cheap ride.

This is a classic example of "I got mine, fark you".
Here's a tiny little fact... can you imagine how many more cars there would be on the roads were there not alternatives to them? Your hallowed automobile would go nowhere, as there would be traffic jams in most major cities 24 hours a day.

Yeah we just love  being stuck at a light while waiting for the light to accommodate the train bringing inbound travelers while we are headed outbound . So basically traffic jams are the same but we had to pay for the hugely overbudget project and we will have to pay to bail them out later .
 
2014-07-05 03:25:37 PM  

hasty ambush: Cache: Tax cuts will solve this problem.  Any fool knows that.

Or maybe just stop diverting highway funds to non-highway projects?

For example your "Highway"trust fund dollars at work:

 $28 million to establish 55 transportation museums

$2 billion+ on 5,547 projects for bike paths and pedestrian walkways and facilities

$84 million for 398 projects for safety and education of pedestrians and bicyclists

$224 million for 366 projects to rehabilitate and operate historic transportation buildings, structures, and facilities

 $13 million on 50 projects for youth conservation service

 $19 million for 25 projects to control and remove outdoor advertising;


From 1992-2010, $4.89 billion went to pedestrian and bicycle facilities, according to the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse.

Another $1.26 billion was used for landscaping and scenic beautification.

 Mass transit projects are allocated 2.86 cents of the 18.4 cent federal fuel tax, a diversion of about 16 percent of the tax from highway users.

a $140,000 federal grant was used to build a scenic park in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.
In 2010, $198,000 went to a driving simulator installed in the National Corvette Museum.



Pretty much this x a million.
 
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