Friday, September 3, 2010

Voter Approved Transportation Tax

People generally don't like tax increases if they don't know what it's for. Political parties in BC tried to make carbon tax a big issue, but it didn't become one. People knew what the carbon tax was for and understood what it was designed to do. The HST on the other hand is a general tax increase, and looking at what's happened in BC over the last little while, it hasn't been popular. No matter the merits of HST, people are less likely to support a general tax increase. I mention this because I found an article called Local Option Transportation Taxes: Devolution as Revolution. The article looks at the history of user fees and taxes in transportation system in America and how voters have approve taxes to support transportation projects.
Ever since the widespread adoption of automobiles, Americans have preferred to pay for highways and bridges with “user fees”—that is, money collected from those who use the roads.

During calendar year 2002, American voters considered 44 separate ballot measures to raise money for transportation. Nine of them were state-wide elections, and only a few involved user fees like fuel taxes. Local sales taxes are by far most common in these measures, but some local governments have enacted vehicle registration fees (arguably a user fee, but more accurately a form of property taxation), taxes on real estate sales, local income or payroll taxes earmarked for transportation, and taxes on new real estate developments.
I quick search of Google will also reveal page upon page of voter approved transit sale taxes. All this to say that I believe that people in Metro Vancouver would be willing to pay more money for transit improvements in our region if they know the money is going direct to transit funding.

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