“With remarkable similarity in each of the five states surveyed, supermajorities of roughly 75 percent turn thumbs down to paying additional taxes to fund transportation. In fact, asked which of their state’s biggest expenses they would least protect from budget cuts, far more respondents in each state — from 46 percent in New York to 55 percent in Illinois — offered to put transportation on the chopping block ahead of higher education, Medicaid and K-12 education.”
But the survey also offers a clue about the source of this attitude, and one which is a problem industry stakeholders and advocacy groups are struggling with. In Arizona, New York and Illinois, approximately 20 percent of the survey respondents named transportation as the state’s biggest expense. But it’s not even close. In Arizona, transportation makes up seven percent of the overall budget, in New York six percent and in Illinois eight percent. The same disparity between perception and reality was found in the other two states as well.
Misconceptions are, then, a major problem to convincing the public of the need to invest in highways and bridges. You may remember that earlier this year another survey found that a vast number of Americans believe their federal gas tax goes up every year. Of course, it doesn’t.
AASHTO’s Horsley says that it’s “the rare state that has the courage even to try [to pass higher taxes or fees for transportation] because it isn’t polling well with the voters, but some legislators recognize they have to do something.” v
Facing Facts: Public Attitudes and Fiscal Realities in Five Stressed States describes how residents of five of the nation’s most fiscally challenged states – Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois and New York – view their state’s budget problems and potential solutions. The Pew Center on the States and the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) partnered to gather those perspectives through a first-of-its-kind survey. The results reveal the issues on which lawmakers and the public are, and are not, aligned. It provides insight into what these residents expect moving forward – on the size and scope of state government, what services it should deliver and who ultimately should pay the bill.
Find the full report at www.ppic.org.
Need a vehicle?
New York City tries “car sharing” to cut costs
New York City is aiming to drastically cut the cost of its vehicle fleet by letting city employees share vehicles when they head out on official business – and then let members of the public borrow them after-hours including weekends.
The move follows a review of successful municipal car share systems in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.
Sharing vehicles reflects the fact that the “one car one driver” model is broken, says the CEO of the company providing the shared vehicles. The share model works for both government agencies and private companies, he said.
Under the one-year New York City pilot program, 300 employees will share 25 vehicles, most of which are hybrids, through a contract with car share company Zipcar. The pilot program could save more than $500,000 over four years in reduced costs for vehicle acquisitions, fuel and maintenance.
The car share vehicles are reserved through a computer reservation system. The pilot program will be evaluated to determine the effect on agency operations, vehicle miles traveled, cost and the effect on parking in Lower Manhattan. If successful, the car share system could be expanded or implemented by other agencies.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg ordered New York City agencies to reduce non-emergency, light-duty vehicles by at least 10 percent last year, which resulted in the sale of 750 city vehicles.
“Earlier this year, we announced a large-scale effort to make city government smaller, smarter and more sustainable – both environmentally and fiscally,” said Bloomberg. “An important component of that effort is looking at city-owned cars. A car share program could help reduce the number of cars we use, cut our costs, free up parking on our streets and reduce the congestion on our streets and the pollution in our air. It’s another example of how we are constantly working on new ways to deliver better services at a lower cost to the taxpayer and to the environment.”
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