Wednesday, June 11, 2008

PAChyderm Coalition explains their latest legislative rankings

It is with sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Senator Jake Flake this past weekend. He was a dedicated public servant who will be missed.

The latest update is available at our web site:

We had a significant changes to weights for three bills were were tracking. These changes were made in response to feedback from legislators and other Republicans including some Pachyderm Coalition members.

The published ratings show scores before and after the weights were changed. This will make it easy to see the effects of the weight changes separate from new activity. Essentially, the entire impact of these changes are only in the Senate. The only effect on House scores was due to bill sponsorships and was very small.

The reason the changes are coming now is that the discussions finally got past "We don't want to pay tolls" to serious concerns about how the privatization initiatives would actually be implemented. Some of those concerns are legitimate and caused us to lower the weights to reflect those risks as well as the possible benefits from these bills.

While nobody wants to pay a toll to use a road, that can be better than other options available such as increases in property tax, increases in sales tax, or not having a road. Also, some kind of time of day pricing to deal with highway congestion will be necessary to manage congestion and keep highway construction costs lower. This is used in a variety of industries such as electricity, communications, airlines, and movie theaters, and it can be applied to commuter traffic. In fact, such an approach is already used in some cities, and we need to explore how to implement time of day pricing in order to ensure we get the most efficient highway construction possible. When possible, matching costs more directly to benefits will help improve efficiency by making the construction decisions more economic and less political than they currently are. That is why we did not consider the initial cries of "We don't want to pay tolls!" to be serious arguments against these bills. After all, nobody wants to pay for something they don't have to. However, other concerns expressed later concerned the efficacy of the bills and were legitimate arguments for lowering the weights.

Here are the bills whose weights were reduced.

SB1420 from +7 to +2. There are concerns that setting up public highway authorities would create another layer of government involved in transportation which would not be good even though there would be benefits from setting up independent authorities that would require revenues and expenses to more closely match for particular roads.
SB1465 from +9 to +4. There are two concerns raised about this bill. The legal authority already exists, and the partnerships may not be structured well to get benefits of privatization. That is, the private companies would be essentially an expansion of government in private form rather than putting more private enterprise into activities that had been government run.
SB1498 from +9 to +4. Same concerns as SB1465, plus taxing authority is added.
Please note that these proposed changes still give positive weights to the bills. Although there is some disagreement within the Republican Party concerning privatization of roads, the Pachyderm Coalition generally supports privatization initiatives. However, the key is to make sure that privatization is real and not just a government expansion into managing via a private company (like with Value Options health care administration). However, due to the concerns raised about the efficacy of these particular bills, we thought it would be more fair to the legislators to lower the weights because these bills are not as clearly indicative of adherence to Republican principles free markets and government efficiency as we thought when we first set the weights.

No comments: