Sunday, November 19, 2006


TDOT: A Picture of Fiscal Mismanagement

Bill Hobbs has the breakdown of TDOT's inaccurate portrayal of a financial shortfall. Hobbs accurately fingers Bredesen as the cause of poor TDOT's problems. Voters should remember that TDOT reform was one of Bredesen's two main campaign goals in 2002, although no one seemed to remember that he had failed on that count as much as he had failed on his TennCare reforms during this month's elections.

You don't need to be an economist to know that TDOT is full of it when they whine over not having enough money. They were more than fully funded previously (as I wrote in the Daily Beacon in 2001) when gas was around $1.50 per gallon. By all estimates, they should have been rolling in dough when gas prices recently spiked to over $3.00 per gallon. Seems that Bredesen's reforms really worked, huh?

We need to change the way that Tennessee builds its roads - because we fund our road projects unlike any other state in the Union - to have real TDOT reform. One place to start would be the General Assembly's defunding of TDOT and recreating the organization from scratch with a new vision and new employees.

That - or the implementation of other TDOT reforms - would take bold leadership. Phil Bredesen has already proven that he doesn't have what it takes to manage such reforms. Will anyone else step up to the plate?

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs, in the Comments, correctly points out that the gas tax is fixed and not connected to the whims of OPEC. I checked my notes and he is right. My apologies.

One thing I failed to mention though is that the vast majority of Tennesseans voted in favor of the sizeable gas tax increase that is about to be placed upon them. Yep, that's right. They did so when they elected Phil Bredesen to a second term. It was widely reported that Bredesen was going to push for a gas tax (as in this article from the July 15th edition of the Chattanooga Times Free Press). Nearly 69% of Tennesseans still supported Bredesen, so I guess only 31% of us can complain that we didn't want our taxes raised. The rest of you... well, you got what you wanted, right?

In addition, as I was already "steaming mad" after reading of TDOT's lecherous demands, I became "spitting nails mad" as I perused the Knoxville News Sentinel this afternoon, particularly when I read this blurb:


State to enhance Civil War trails

Gov. Phil Bredesen announced today that the state will provide an enhancement grant in the amount of $537,240 to assist with the Tennessee Civil War Trails program, operated by the Tennessee Department of Tourism.... The grant is made possible through a federally funded program administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

"This exciting trails program will allow Tennesseans to create the nation's best program for telling the whole story of the Civil War and to bring new benefits to our towns and communities through heritage tourism," said Dr. Van West, director of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area at Middle Tennessee State University. "I am pleased to see Governor Bredesen and Commissioner Nicely funding this effort."

"Including this year's enhancement grants, TDOT has helped fund approximately $189 million worth of transportation related projects such as the restoration of historic facilities, bike and pedestrian trails, landscaping and other non-traditional transportation projects," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely.


You gotta be kidding me...

Actually, the gas tax is fixed per gallon, so the price of gas doesn't affect TDOT's revenues. Higher gas prices might actually cost TDOT revenue if they cause people to drive less.

Still Bredesen did defund TDOT by $60 million a year, which was a bad move given that TDOT needs more money, not less.
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