Roanoke Times Editor Joins Anti-Tax Movement (For a Minute)

August 13, 2007

Editor Dan Radmacher of the Roanoke Times is uncomfortable to find himself allied with anti-tax groups in the fight over Virginia’s new driving fees.

To quickly put some distance between them and himself, he made this dubious claim in yesterday’s edition:

“There hasn’t been an infusion of cash into the [Virginia highway] system for 20 years.”

The Census Bureau’s web site doesn’t go back 20 years, but Census does tell us that Virginia spent $1.52 billion on roads in 1992 and $1.38 billion in 1993. Fast forward 12 years to 2005 (most recent year in Census data), and road spending in Virginia was up to $2.3 billion. That doesn’t even count the $600 million that local governments spent.

Has the Virginia population grown so fast that even this “infusion” is inadequate? No, per capita spending is also much higher now than in earlier times.

The Roanoke Times should just stick to the facts. There’s a good argument for using gas taxes, not driver fees, to support road construction, so just make that argument instead of falsifying spending data or trying to find sympathetic speeders.

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