Rick Perry's three ways for road-building: Tax, toll or asphalt fairy

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Rick Perry's three ways for road-building: Tax, toll or asphalt fairy
By Kathie Obradovich
August 11, 2014
Des Moines Register

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, winding up a business roundtable appearance in Des Moines today, was asked how he managed to pay for roads in Texas without raising taxes.

There are three ways to pay for transportation infrastructure: "Tax roads, toll roads, or the asphalt fairy," Perry said. "There is no other way, and roads are expensive."

He forgot to mention a fourth way, which is all the rage in Texas: Borrow the money. According to Perry's website, the 81st Texas Legislature authorized and appropriated $2 billion in bonding for road building. "While bonding can be an effective short-term solution for funding projects, Gov. Perry continues to pursue innovative, long-term transportation funding solutions for our state's perpetually growing transportation needs," his website goes on to say.

Perry, speaking at the Association for Business and Industry office in Des Moines, added he recommends avoiding tax increases. The business growth that results will raise the revenue needed to pay for road construction, he said. But in Texas, local communities are having trouble keeping up.

Bloomberg News reported in June that Texas local governments are piling up debt for infrastructure and local services as Texas grows. The state's debt increased about 170 percent to $41 billion from 2000 to 2012, and local borrowings grew by 145 percent to almost $196 billion, Bloomberg reported.

Gov. Terry Branstad has said we don't want toll roads in Iowa, and he ousted the previous governor in part by blasting borrowing for infrastructure. He hasn't ruled out an increase in the gas tax, but has held off pushing for the change. This year, an exploration of alternative revenue sources went nowhere.

Guess that leaves the asphalt fairy. Hope she's not too tired to fly up here when she gets finished in Texas.