The Oregonian focuses today on the gas tax. A gas tax is the right idea, but tying it to road improvements is dumb for two reasons. First, as we have just seen, dedicated funds tie government's hands (well, maybe not so much - see the Cultural Trust - but this just illustrates the point) and make government less effective and efficient. Second, a gas tax is an appropriate tax to address carbon emissions, less so for road wear and tear, so tying it to road maintenance and construction is, well, inappropriate.
I am sure there are lots of political reasons that this makes sense, but sometimes I wonder why legislative leaders don't try and act more boldly. How about instituting a 5% gas tax that goes into the general fund? This is a lot yes, and some mechanism for helping out less wealthy rural residents (who have to drive more) will have to be figured out, but it is a lot less than the $1 a gallon tax James Hansen recommends. Besides, look at the Measure 57 fiasco from the last election: Democrats were so worried about 61 they pushed 57 and now we have a costly mandate in a time when we are cutting essential services (like courts). We now know that 61 would have likely failed on its own.
Oregon wants to be serious about growing a green economy? Let's start be being the first to seriously address the carbon issue. Oh and hey, this is a perfect time to let drivers pump their own. Prices will fall and Dems can show that they are not always 'big government' proponents.