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August 1, 2007 / Toby Dayton

Why Paying Taxes Is OK


The horrific, tragic collapse of the 35W bridge earlier tonight in Minneapolis should serve as a horrendous wake-up call to Governor Pawlenty and the state legislators (as well as a completely inept, significantly underfunded Department of Transportation) who for years have consistently and obstinately refused to raise sufficient revenue to repair, support, and improve a massively deteriorating transportation infrastructure. The scene tonight is shocking beyond belief, and perhaps it’s much too soon to lay blame or turn the catastrophe into a political issue, but the reality is that when tax revenue falls woefully short of needed funds for an extended period of time, services and infrastructure suffer. Taxes exist for a good reason. And while government should be fiscally responsible and wise in its investments, and while there is clearly a point at which excessively high taxes create negative consequences, it is essential that sufficient funds are collected to deliver the services we all expect from our state governments. Governor Pawlenty and too many state legislators have badly failed in this regard, and tonight is a unecessarily dramatic example of the consequences of that failure.

[tags]Minnesota Bridge Collapse, 35W Bridge Collapse, Transportation Infrastructure, Paying Taxes Is OK, Governor Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota Gas Tax Has Not Been Raised Since 1988, Elwyn Tinklenberg[/tags]


  1. Willow / Aug 2 2007 1:04 am

    Bravo Toby! This is horrible and if we had government in this state who had a clue .. this never would have happened. The latest from the Trib says this bridge was rated Structurally Deficient in 2005. I would gladly pay more in taxes – property, gas, tags, whatever .. to assure no one ever need go through this horror again.

  2. Kris / Aug 2 2007 8:29 am

    We’re going to be without a bridge that carried 100,000 commuters per day for at least the next 2 years, but at least we have that expensive light rail system which carries about 10K per day.

    Insufficient funding is a valid argument, but it’s most important that the money that is there is spent wisely.

  3. Toby Dayton / Aug 2 2007 9:02 am

    The best long-term (50+ years) investment in transportation involves a diversified mix of investments in roads, buses, and light-rail. Given the growth projections for the Twin Cities in the next 50 years, there will never be enough roads to handle the demand. Basing an opinion about light rail on a single initial line, only the first of what must become a network of connected lines across the entire metro region, is, at best, premature and at worst, absurd. Ridership since the line became operational has been significantly higher than projected, and those numbers will continue to rise as investments in infrastructure continue. For the Twin Cities to remain competitive as a dynamic, modern, high-growth, workable community, we must continue to invest in light rail, along with roads and buses, at a level far higher than what we have done in the past 20+ years.

  4. LuckyAdam / Aug 7 2007 2:06 pm

    I agree in total. I think it’s very telling that Pawlenty is now saying he may support that gas tax that he vetoed twice before. I think a gas tax has two positive benefits.

    1) It generates revenues that are obviously needed
    2) Republicans will like this: Consumers will demand from the free market more efficient vehicles, thereby reducing emissions and dependence on foreign oil

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