Governor Dennis Daugaard deserves all the guff we can give him for reneging on his no-new-taxes promise to consider a gasoline-tax increase. Acknowledging that we don't spend enough on our roads and bridges is an important repudiation of the Republican sloganeering that would have us believe that public goods grow on free-market trees. Roads don't just happen; communities build them with taxes.
But Governor Daugaard deserves credit for screwing up the courage to focus on transportation at a time when Congress appears incapable of getting anything done. The lame-duck session is ticking away with zero accomplishments. Congress stages a cynical political ploy to express its support for one private pipeline that won't help any American drive to work, then goes home for Thanksgiving. But both parties ignore the Highway Trust Fund, which we urgently need to replenish in order to rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges:
Ray LaHood: That's the pot of money that over 50 years helped us create the best interstate system in the world, which is now falling apart.
Steve Kroft: Why? How did it get this way?
Ray LaHood: It's falling apart because we haven't made the investments. We haven't got the money. The last time we raised the gas tax, which is how we built the interstate system, was 1993.
Steve Kroft: What has the resistance been?
Ray LaHood: Politicians in Washington don't have the political courage to say, "This is what we have to do." That's what it takes.
Steve Kroft: They don't want to spend the money? They don't want to raise the taxes?
Ray LaHood: That's right. They don't want to spend the money. They don't want to raise the taxes. They don't really have a vision of America the way that other Congresses have had a vision of America [Steve Kroft, "Falling Apart: America's Neglected Infrastructure," CBS: 60 Minutes, 2014.11.23.
In at least suggesting that he'll set aside his election-year slogans and seek more tax revenue to maintain our roads, Governor Daugaard is showing a little more leadership and vision than our Congressional delegation. Let's hope our Legislature can follow the Governor's (and more importantly, Senator Mike Vehle's) lead, drop the campaign trail baloney, educate the voters as to the proper role of government, and fill some potholes.35 comments