Archive for April 27th, 2011

by lizard

I picked up an anthology a few weeks ago from Shakespeare & Co. titled Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century. So far I’ve been really impressed with the featured writers, like my new fav Josh Bell. I just read the following poem, and had to share it. Read his sorta queer love poem to God below the fold. Continue Reading »


The Federal government has this funny little financial power called “rescission” in which it can take back money from the states that has been previously obligated for programs but has yet to be spent. Streetsblog has a great post that covers many of the nuances of this practice.

The FY2011 budget deal that Democrats and Republican finally agreed to recently requires states to send back to Washington $2.5 billion in unspent transportation funds. Who decides what programs to target for rescissions? Your state DOT.

Montana’s share of this $2.5 billion being sucked back into the black hole that is the Federal budget totals $26 million. To put that is perspective:

  • about the equivalent 10 years of Federal dollars that goes to Missoula
  • 26 years of Federal funding received by Missoula’s transit service, Mountain Line
  • Not even enough to cover the cost of Russell street reconstruction

Where the cuts will be coming from has yet to be determined, but its pretty likely that Missoula will feel the sting.

This could be just the beginning of the states being starved of Federal funding for transportation. It seems that the Federal government shot its load of transportation funding when it passed the stimulus. Our own Senator Max Baucus stated that, “we don’t have a lot of money here,” and is thus proposing a transportation bill that would span only 2 years rather than the normal six. Really great idea Max… we can debate this all over again but this time lets make the debate timed perfectly to coincide with the next election.

If we take the six years at the current funding level, annual funding payments would [go down] approximately from current $42 [billion] down to $28 [billion] — unless we find new revenue.

Finding new revenue at the Federal level just ain’t going to happen… because… you know… our taxes are so fucking high already. A lack of courage in raising new revenue at the Federal level is one of the reasons that some states are starting to look into raising their own fuel taxes.

Connecticut recently raised the state’s fuel tax to help meet their unfunded need to maintain existing roadways. Montana is in a similar situation if the current crop of Republicants deeply cut transportation funding as our state would be faced with losing billions of dollars resulting in a lot of projects never happening. Hell Missoula County already has a backlog of transportation projects that can’t be completed because of a lack of money, this alone would add hundreds of millions of dollars in projects that it wouldn’t be able to get to. This would mean ever deteriorating roads, more congestion, and a hit to our economic vitality.

Isn’t it great that besides the Tea People giving the states more supposed freedom they are also burdening the states with a financial obligation the states can’t even hope to come close to meeting?

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