Monday, August 22, 2016

SW Light Rail: Progressive Taxation

MP SW Light Rail Funding

The comments here to an interesting turn and allowed me to have some fun.
"Acronym City: Having lived in both metro St. Louis and metro Denver – and been a regular user of light rail in both places – I'm a fan of light rail as mass transit. My former planning commissioner self was never a fan of the route selected for the Southwest line, largely for reasons that others have already laid out in detail. Lots of people and jobs at one end, not much except large-lot suburbia at the other end, with not enough density to make such a line very plausible economically.  
I don't mind subsidizing light rail, but there have to be enough riders to make the subsidy palatable, and that didn't seem to be the case. NIMBY opposition to light rail's effects on property values is both self-serving and short-sighted. In areas where light rail has been built and is operating, the initial inconvenience of construction has had some negative effects in the short term, but in the long run, property values are UP, not down.  
That said, however, the point made by others about serving a greater number of people than the current alignment seems to do strikes me as one well-made. When Met Council goes back to the proverbial drawing board, I hope they'll pay more attention to that facet of planning.

In theory, there's much to like about Bus Rapid Transit. In practice, not so much. Either the bus is stuck in traffic along with you, or the cost of adding bus-exclusive lanes to existing roads rivals that of building light rail, and buses are less efficient people-movers. If we're REALLY serious about moving commuters in and out of downtown, we'd go ahead and build something like the North Star line to several other destinations, and destinations with… ahem… larger populations than that of Big Lake.

It does appear, however, that, should we lose the $900 million in federal funds – hardly pocket change, even for some of our wealthier citizens – the onus for that loss ought to fall squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Daudt and his GOP colleagues, who, as far as I can tell, have opposed any and every mode of mass transit in the metro area that didn't involve the automobile since I arrived 7 years ago." Ray

"You make sense: If it requires a loss of $900 million, perhaps that is money well-lost with respect to a needed jolt of reality juice.  We'll get the money for other projects, in any case. We are a favorite funding recipient thanks to our productive DFL connections to the Washington money pot.  Perhaps other cities might use some of "our" $900 million more effectively. Hope so." Jim

"We are a favorite funding recipient thanks to our productive DFL connections to the Washington money pot."

Light rail aside, there's a lot of interesting data available on this topic, but when it comes to the "bottom line," DFL connections or otherwise, Minnesota only gets back 72-cents for every $1.00 we send the federal government in taxes. There are only four states that get back less than we do.

Ironically, the states that pay the least in federal taxes are the most dependent on federal "hand outs." Mississippi, for example, a solid "red state," gets back $2.02 for every $1.00 they send in.

So yeah, I suppose we could just keep letting 28% of the federal dollars we contribute go to states that need them more than we do to help them make up for the low low taxes their citizens pay and help them build up their education system, their public health and safety stuff, their infrastructure and maybe help pay for repairing some of the environmental damage their "extra-deregulory" policies may have helped create, etc..

Other articles on the topic you may find interesting:

"Which States Are Givers and Which Are Takers?"

"2016’s Most & Least Federally Dependent States"" Bill

"Bill, Please remember that this is the way the Liberals wanted it, and they got it. Minnesota is a rich state for many reasons, therefore we pay more than we receive. Just like how wealthier people pay in much more than they receive back. Maybe we can call it Progressive taxation for States.

Now if you would like to reduce the money collected and redistributed by the Feds, I am sure most of us financial Conservatives would be happy to go along and give the power back to the states.

And I assume most Liberals would prefer that the money go to help the poor rather than building some fancy transit system for suburbanites." G2A
So the questions are:
  • Are MN Liberals happy to pay more and receive less from the Federal Government?  If so, why is this topic brought up often?
  • Since it is MN's wealthy who are paying this money via the Progressive Federal Income tax, does it matter?

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