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Transportation and Infrastructure

Tune into NTU's State of the Union Coverage tonight
Posted By:  - 01/25/11

Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, the National Taxpayers Union's crack government affairs and policy analysis teams will provide special online coverage of the President’s State of the Union Address, and we want you to be there and be a part of the discussion. We will be breaking down the President's proposals and what they will mean for taxpayers. Details on how you can join the conversation are below.

  • If you have a Twitter account, use the hash tags #NTUSOTU and #SOTU to link to our discussions and analyses. Hash tags are like keywords for Twitter. Just use them in each of your messages to link to the ongoing dialogue. Remember to also follow @NTU and @NTUF for all the latest commentary!
  • You can also log onto NTU’s Facebook page, where we will constantly update our newsfeed with links, comments, and memorable quotes. Be sure to join our page by clicking "Like"!
  • Even if you don’t have a Twitter of Facebook account, you can still share your thoughts and opinions by going to our special chat room. Join the chat here.
  • NTU will also be updating our blog, Government Bytes, as the night progresses. You can comment on each post as well! Just click on the “Post a Comment” link and speak your mind.

We look forward to seeing you online tonight at 9 p.m. EST!

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Obama on infrastructure
Posted By:  - 01/25/11

I had hoped to hear about deficit reduction and the need to live within our means in this speech. Then I heard Obama say: "Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail..."

So much for fiscal restraint...

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Senators Oppose Higher Ethanol Blending Requirements
Posted By:  - 01/07/11

The Hill's E2 Wire is reporting that "A bipartisan coalition of senators are mounting increased opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow some vehicles to fuel up with higher blends of ethanol in their gasoline." 

Ethanol has been hanging around Washington for decades, but perhaps there's a sense now that it's time to put an end to it.

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Conservation Corps Scored at $16 Billion in Tab
Posted By: Dan Barrett - 12/14/10

Tab Insert

This week’s Taxpayer’s Tab covers a variety of legislation introduced during the 111th Congress, ranging from improving America’s small town infrastructure to eliminating sex-based pay-discrimination.

The 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act -- this week’s Most Expensive Bill -- would reestablish the Depression-era program at a cost of $16 billion each year. The Corps is intended to employ people, especially out-of-work veterans and people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, by improving America’s parks and forests.

Be sure to check out the WildCard -- a bill to get kids and families outdoors through community program grants. You might be interested how much it costs…

The bills highlighted in Issue 23 of The Taxpayer’s Tab include:

  • HR 6456/HR4318, 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act
  • HR 6246, Rural Energy Communities Development Act of 2010
  • S 3772, Paycheck Fairness Act
  • HR 6426, Moving Outdoors in Nature Act of 2010
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Unions protest Wisconsin’s governor-elect for saving money
Posted By:  - 11/19/10

Scott Walker, the Milwaukee County executive who was just elected Governor of Wisconsin, has been fiercely criticized for his decision to not support an expensive new passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Madison. Now, groups with a stake in rail line and its politics, such as unions and environmentalists, are staging public rallies in an effort to convince the Walker to change his mind. On Monday, a labor-backed rally took place at a train manufacturing plant in Milwaukee and at least six similar rallies are planned for tomorrow.

 

Train supporters claim that they are protesting the loss of jobs while Walker says that the state cannot afford it. Although the federal government has provided $810 million in funds for the construction of the rail line, the state could be left responsible for millions of dollars annually in operational costs. Currently, the state is dealing with an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent and faces a budget deficit of nearly $3 billion over the next two years.

 

But those who support the rail should know that Walker is serious about holding the line on spending. As Milwaukee’s County Executive, he earned a reputation for combating overspending in the county’s budgets. In fact, in each of his nine budget proposals, he kept the property tax levy to the previous year’s level. Walker did this despite howls of protest from critics who said his budgets “cut to the bone” and deprived Milwaukee County residents of important services such as transit and parks.

 

For the sake of Wisconsin’s taxpayers, let’s hope that Governor Walker stays true to his reputation as a good steward of taxpayer money.

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More Big Ethanol
Posted By:  - 11/08/10

In today's Examiner, Tim Carney argues that ending Big Ethanol's subsidies is an early test of their commitment to free markets and smaller government.  With the subsidies set to expire at the end of this year, you can never say never.  However, ethanol has hung around Washington for more than 30 years.  During the 1970s, ethanol was billed as the answer to America's energy crisis. During the 1980s, it was expected to save the family farm from financial ruin. During the 1990s, ethanol was touted for its environmental benefits.  Whatever problem Washington seems to be facing, ethanol seems to be the answer.  And, as Carney rightly points out, the industry has a lot of friends on Capitol Hill.  If Republicans can end subsidies to Big Ethanol, it would be an important accomplishment and demonstrate their commitment to reforming Washington.

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An Alternative to Ethanol
Posted By:  - 10/21/10

In case you're looking for an alternative to ethanol, Investors.com points out that you could purchase a Chevy Volt.  However, they don't seem completely sold on it: "So it's not an all-electric car, but rather a pricey $41,000 hybrid that requires a taxpayer-funded $7,500 subsidy to get car shoppers to look at it."

 

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More on Big Ethanol
Posted By:  - 10/20/10

A little more on Big Ethanol.  This week Gregg Easterbrook has a piece on Reuters.com that touches all of the bases:  subsidies, environmental benefits, and taxes.  Give it a read.

I could not agree more.

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Got questions about ballot measures? NTU's Ballot Guide has answers
Posted By:  - 10/14/10

Voters face many important decisions in the upcoming elections, which are now less than three weeks away. But many of these critical decisions will not involve choosing between the names of candidates. Instead, voters will have to choose between letters and numbers identifiying hundreds of state and local ballot measures, many of which could have an especially profound impact on tax, spending, and other fiscal policies for years to come and regardless of which political party triumphs in the state houses. To help taxpayers better understand these measures, NTU has produced and made available on our website "The 2010 Ballot Guide: The Taxpayers Perspective."

Our Guide is more than just a list of measures. The Guide is an analysis of these measures on the state and local ballots across the country, providing evaluations of how these measures grow the size of government and increase the tax burden on hard-working families. Unfortunately, there are many such measures on the ballot according to the Guide. However, many other measures on the ballot will give taxpayers opportunities to exercise a greater degree of control over government tax, spending, and regulatory powers.

Here are some highlights from the pages of the Guide:

  • In Washington State, Initiative 1098 would impose a state-level income tax there for the first time, beginning on individuals with incomes above $200,000 but later possibly extending to other groups at the Legislature’s discretion.  This would knock Washington off the list of just nine states without a broad-based income tax. On the other hand, Initiative 1053 would require two-thirds of the Legislature or a majority of voters to raise taxes in the future, while Initative 1107 would roll back taxes on candy, bottled water, and soft drinks.
  • In California, Proposition 23 on the statewide ballot would suspend the California Global Warming Act, and all of its mandates until unemployment eases. Taxpayer advocates in the state argue that this measure would prevent substantial hikes in energy costs on struggling consumers. Meanwhile, Proposition 25 would do away with a two-thirds legislative vote requirement to pass a budget but Proposition 26 would extend a two-thirds vote stricture on increases in many fees.
  • Voters in Massachusetts will consider a measure that would reduce the state’s sales tax from 6.25 percent to 3 percent, as well as one repealing in most cases the sales tax on alcoholic beverages.
  • Proposition A on the Missouri statewide ballot would take away the authority for cities to levy an earnings tax, require voter approval for the continuation of earnings taxes where they currently exist, and provide for their eventual phase-out.
  • At the local level, voters in California's San Diego County, as well as voters in Illinois' DuPage County, will vote on measures that would either require voter approval for increases in public safety pension benefit formulas or call upon the state to undertake serious pension reforms immediately.

We hope you find the Guide useful in evaluating the choices awaiting you at the polls. Be sure to check back with NTU after the election for our report on how taxpayers fared.

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Big Ethanol
Posted By:  - 10/13/10

Robert Bryce has a great piece on ethanol in The Examiner.  If you haven't read it, please do so.  Here are the closing paragraphs:

It's time to end the corn ethanol boondoggle. Despite decades of lavish subsidies, ethanol has done nothing to cut oil imports. Rather than further compound the mistakes that have already been made by increasing the volume of ethanol in the U.S. motor fuel supply, the EPA and Congress should recognize that ethanol is not, and has never been, an energy program.

Instead, it is a pernicious example of how agriculture subsidies are promulgated and expanded for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many.

I could not agree more.

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