Re: the editorial, “Paying for Pavement” (BDN, Dec. 3-4):
You’re right, we do have a serious problem when it comes to funding safe roads in Maine, and the problem is getting more serious every day. I don’t agree with your solutions though. Borrowing money (bonding) to fix our roads only shifts the problem to the future and increases those costs with interest. You can raise the tax on trucks, but consumers end up paying those costs in higher prices for goods and services. Higher transportation costs will also drive more jobs from Maine, not a good answer.
Maine people have to drive more to get to work, to go to the doctor, or just to buy groceries than almost any state in the nation. Does it make sense to tax the necessities of life of poor people or should we look for alternatives? My vote is for the latter.
First, I would like to make the Department of Transportation more efficient. We can’t afford to have one person working while five stand around with their hands in their pockets watching. I believe we can reduce administration costs, saving money that could buy pavement. There has been some improvement in recent years, but we can do more.
Should the Highway Fund provide ferry service to the islands of Maine or should they be paid from the General Fund as they always have been until this year? That’s $6 million each and every year, a lot of improvements to our roads.
Should we pay 63 percent of the State Police budget from highway taxes? If we are going to fund the State Police from highway funds why not the sheriff’s departments too? We should eliminate the federal tax on motor fuels and turn that money over to the states. The latest figures show Maine gets back 94 cents of every dollar we send to Washington in gas taxes while Alaska gets $5.17.
Let Maine people decide where the taxes we pay are spent. If we controlled those tax dollars, heavy trucks could be on the interstate where they belong and not on our local roads.
Rep. Doug Thomas