Once again our heart strings are being plucked.
Paraphrasing Norm Osterman: If people had half a heart they would see the value of higher taxes for the transit system.
My response: If the system half way paid its own way with half full buses, I'd be happy to have half a heart. It doesn't! Taxpayers are out $5 to $6 per rider for every 75 cents fare collected. Thousands of our citizens don't live close enough to any bus route for convenient accessibility.
A significant share of the ridership comes from school children within walking distance of schools. We do have another public transit system, school buses.
Lets review the other demands for tax money.
(1) The probability is that health care reform will greatly increase federal government costs to cover 30 million new people. Plus, it's about control not efficiency.
(2) Federal bailouts have barely started to be recovered. Who will pay for the shortfall? You!
(3) cap and trade, if passed, could realistically double everyone's energy cost. A hidden tax.
(4) The state has a predictable $ 2.6 billon revenue shortfall and is scrutinizing every tax increase that it can find.
(5) Over the past 35 years the sales tax has increased because of local add-ons. Also remember, the inflationary spiral for all purchases has greatly augmented the government's take.
(6) Walla Walla has a critical street maintenance and repair problem. How will it be paid for?
(7) The recession and 10 percent (more like 17 percent) unemployment has greatly diminished governmental income.
(8) Many states are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
Its not just the added 3 cents on each $10 purchase. Dozens of other governmental agencies want far more. Governments' knee jerk reaction to budget difficulties is to raise taxes; not to revise priorities and cut expenses.
Buyers of big ticket items (cars, trucks, tractors, buildings, etc.) are paying many times their share.
Finally, is it possible to think out of the box? Vouchers provided for everyone truly in need, for door to door taxi service, could hardly be more expensive. Has it ever been explored?
We could have a really good time if only we could find someone willing to pay 80 percent or 90 percent of our expenses.
Kenneth D. Emerson