Citizens’ Budget Facts of the Day, part 3

Posted by on Mar 21 2011 | Citizens' Budget, PPC

Government redistributes tax dollars to private businesses to further “economic development.” The intent is to intervene in the economy so that new jobs are created; these jobs then supposedly will multiply through the economy as wages from the jobs and purchases of materials and other inputs provide new income to supporting businesses. It is the dream, vision and expressed intent behind the Obama administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funding, and the hope of governments at all levels.

Yet it is increasingly understood that such programs actually result in a lower general standard of living.

The Statewide Bridge Enterprise forecasts that revenues will exceed $100 million annually after a three-year phase-in period.

Elected officials raise these revenues from a surcharge, the Bridge Safety Fee, levied as part of the new vehicle registration fees. The enabling legislation is wrong in several ways. It is really a tax, not a fee. The charge is based on the weight of each truck and not on the frequency that any particular truck uses a Colorado bridge. As a tax, it required prior voter approval, which was never requested.

Deserving further study is reaction to allegations that wage and salary levels of state employees are higher than for similar jobs in the private sector.[i] Setting the base wages and salaries is done annually by use of surveys of comparable positions. How then do we end up with the average pay exceeding comparable private sector jobs? Do surveys of other government positions really identify market comparables? Do surveys capture the value of the security of a government job? How can a measure of turnover be used to assess pay level? Are the level of health care and other benefits truly reflected in total remuneration figures?

[i] Protected Class, Wendell Cox. Protected Class II, Wendell Cox.

Direct CDOT to investigate improving mobility on U.S. 287 by establishing new truck-fee-financed, truck-only lanes.
Trucks and automobiles are not particularly compatible. Their use of the same facilities drives up costs while reducing safety and carrying capacity. Truck traffic counts comprise about 10 percent of vehicles but consume nearly 30 percent of highway capacity. Thus, removing trucks from some highways effectively would increase capacity by 30 percent for automobiles. Trucks pay a lot in taxes and fees which, if isolated for exclusive use of trucks, might be enough revenue to construct their own truck-only lanes.[i] Design standards for separate automobile and truck facilities would allow both to become more cost-effective and safe.

[i] Peter Samuel, Robert W. Poole, Jr., and José Holguin-Veras, Toll Truckways: A New Path Toward Safer and More Efficient Freight Transportation, Reason Foundation Policy Study 294 (June 2002),

Our research shows the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing has been overly reliant on policy suggestions and “research” provided by private foundations with agendas that are often at odds with the welfare of Colorado patients and taxpayers. It has accepted large amounts of money from those foundations to fund extensive “technical support” programs and to create various small institutions that can be relied on for friendly staffing of proliferating committees, commissions, and boards. As a result, it is increasingly difficult to pinpoint who is actually making policy within the Department. The small foundation-supported institutions also can be relied upon to join coalitions that provide political cover for state officials intent on transferring more money and power from private sector health programs to public ones.

For more information about this topic, go to , leave a message at the Independence Institute at 303-279-6536 or reach Penn Pfiffner directly at or at 303-233-7731.

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