What's this about Republicans trying to raise taxes, ah, make that tolls?
The NC House last week passed a bill that provides for the addition of tolls to certain roads in North Carolina. We can't tell you precisely which roads because the legislature left that up to the bureaucrats and the Department of Transportation, in spite of the fact that Beaufort County Representative Mike Speciale argued strongly that the legislature should decide which road would be tolled.
The decision is one of the most controversial that has hit the General Assembly this year and indeed may be a rallying point against Speaker Thom Tillis if he decides to run for office again.
Here's the simple breakdown of the issue.
In recent years governors Easley and Perdue raided the Highway Fund to use money for other things, including balancing the state's budget. Some contend that in effect money was shifted from building and maintaining highways to funding shortfalls in Medicaid, the health care program for poor people.
But the highway needs did not abate. In fact they're getting worse every year. All one has to do is spend a little time on I-95 to know that it needs to be widened from four-lanes to six or eight lanes. But it would cost gazillions of dollars to do that. So the question comes: How would we pay for upgrading interstates that are maxed out with traffic? Somebody came up with the idea of tolls.
Now tolls are very unpopular with most people. They figure it is double taxation since they still paying gasoline taxes and having to pay tolls also. And you don't expect Republicans to be in favor of taking more money from people, whether it be income taxes, sales taxes, use taxes or tolls. But that is exactly what the House did. But not without an uproar.
Here is a committee meeting that sort of got out of control while debating tolls.
And the next video shows Speaker Thom Tillis saying "no to tolls." Or at least some who heard him thought that is what he was saying. You decide:
Next is a clip that opens with Rep. Speciale arguing against tolls and ends with an "expose" of the role Tillis was playing in the controversy: