Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We Shouldn't Wait...

The Argus Leader has an editorial titled: "South Dakota Should Brace For Worst"

The author of this editorial is exactly right… we cannot always rely on federal resources to take care of ourselves. The highways in South Dakota are funded through the fuel taxes. Due to recent increases in fuel (up to $147 per barrel in July) the people of South Dakota and the United States couldn't afford to drive. Subsequently, the decrease in fuel taxes meant that federal and state governments couldn’t afford to fix roads.

We are a transportation dependent economy. Agricultural products must be harvested and transported, kids need to drive to school, people need to drive to work, and in South Dakota, we rely on tourism as a sizeable portion of our economic revenue.

I strongly assure you… South Dakota, along with other state governments, can’t afford to wait forever. Our infrastructure is vitally important to our stability as an economy, and to the quality of life we lead here in the Midwest where mass transit isn’t always readily available.

The answer?

We can begin by implementing polices to localize transportation funding, relying on local government to decide what projects are important. Last legislative session, we proposed Senate Bill 183. This bill allowed for the ability to set up a transportation district. By partnering with local governments within a region, a tax base can be captured and directed towards the priorities much needed within the region.

All too often, the game plan for local communities either goes unnoticed or gets put on hold by state government. We need to allow local communities the control they need to grow their assets and invest in what will help sustain their economy and quality of life. Senate Bill 183 should be the start of the discussion towards the right answer in our transportation funding problems.

Once again, partnerships can solve problems.

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