Thursday, February 23, 2006

If Jeb Can Do It Why Can't We

The Newport News Daily Press asks us that question today in an editorial. A great question to ask indeed. Unfortunately the paper asks the wrong question. It discusses recent investments in infrastructure by the Bush administration and suggests the following: "money doesn't come from borrowing or shifting. It comes from a "documentary stamp tax" on Florida real estate transactions. And get this: The housing industry supported it."

Here's what the article misses or leaves out.

First, half of the initial investment WAS a shift from General Fund revenue - basically $750m from state surplus ("nonrecurring funds") was diverted into the fund ($575 of that going to transpo). In addition, the "recurring funds" are also diverted into this fund.

Second, there was NO increase in the "doc stamp" tax rate nor was it a new tax - it was an existing tax that was already on the books. There has been a flood of new revenue because of the real estate market (a $5B surplus last year and $3.2B so far this year) - as such $1.5B was dedicated to catching up on infrastructure deficit (part of a growth management reform).

Third, the housing industry did support it, however, the measure does help them in the long run and NO NEW TAXES WERE RAISED TO PAY FOR IT. In addition, they went along with it avoid more damaging construction moratoriums.

Bottomline: surplus money was used for initial one time infusion (half the $1.5B), the other half was shifted and dedicated to this fund from existing tax resources...not an increase.

Perhaps the better question to ask is what does Florida's DOT look like vs. VDOT? Well, they contract out a lot more - at least 50 percent of every major function area, including nearly 85% of maintenance.

Another question, perhaps, is Florida actively pursuing other Public-private partnerships? Why yes they are. In fact, they just issued an RFQ today calling for a Concessionaire who will
be required to design, build and finance the Port of Miami Tunnel and Access Improvement Project, which consists of the widening of the MacArthur Causeway Bridge; a tunnel
connection between Watson Island and Dodge Island; and connections to the Port of Miami ("POM") roadway system. The tunnel connection between Watson Island and Dodge
Island will run beneath the Main Shipping Channel.


  • You've been trying to compared Virginia and Florida. The two systems are fundamentally different. Virginia's is centralized; Florida's is not. The Florida system is shared between the state and the localities. Florida's urban split, for instance, is 6,000 miles for the state and 40,000 miles for the counties. Virginia has roughly 9,000 urban miles in the state system, with about 1,000 controled (Or "ownned") by localities. But Virginia's rural roads tell the tale more clearly, with 48,000 in the state system and less than 700 controlled by localities. It does make a difference when trying to evaluate the relative efficiencies involved.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/24/2006 9:39 PM  

  • I was responding to an editorial. You do raise a good point, actually its one that we've been trying to make -- that we need to reform the system.

    By Blogger gfsegal, at 2/25/2006 10:00 PM  

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