St. Louis Votes In New Tax to Pay for Better Transit, Ignores Tea Party
Photo via Rust Wire
Last week, I mentioned that the majority of Washington DC voters were willing to pay higher taxes to keep public transit running. In another vote of confidence for quality mass transit, St. Louis voters have overwhelmingly approved a measure that will raise the sales tax "to stabilize and eventually expand" its transportation network, according to Grist. The local Tea Party movement was ardently against the measure, and threw its weight behind defeating it. And then . . .. . . St. Louis voters approved the measure anyways--by an overwhelming margin of 24 points--establishing a half cent sales tax increase to fund the Metrolink public transit system. Raising the sales tax is a pretty common, and pretty fair, way to pay for transit--in New York City, for example, .375% of the total 8.875% sales tax in the city (combined with the state tax) goes to funding its MTA.
But the real message here is that people want good public transit, and are willing to pay a little extra to get it.
From St. Louis Today:
"This is not a political issue," said Metro President and Chief Executive Robert Baer. "This was a matter of the whole region coming together -- the north, south, central, west." Metro transit officials had warned that the agency would have to dramatically scale back bus and Call-A-Ride service. MetroLink trains would likely have run less often, too, putting jobs and classrooms out of reach to thousands who depend on public transportation.While the Metro prez is right--transit should hardly be a political issue--the local Tea Party attempted to turn it into one, using familiar arguments that it's another example of unnecessary taxation. But in cases like this, the meat of the matter isn't about ideology--it's about people having an affordable, safe way to get around the city they live in. And by increasing the tax, hundreds of jobs will be saved, and some will even be created. And with better service, more passengers may be attracted, and more cars may be taken off the road--decreasing congestion, traffic accidents and emissions.
Seems like a win-win-win-win to me. Certainly an example of smart use of tax dollars. These Metrolink supporters certainly seem to agree (this was taken when news came that the measure had passed):