A startsandfits.com reader e-mails in with an article that says the Arizona House of Representatives is considering legislation to reimburse motorists’ summer gasoline expenses at the rate of 10 cents a gallon. Despite their image as fiscally conservative, state Republicans are apparently pushing for this because they think it will stimulate the economy. Thankfully, the governor of Arizona, a Democrat, is opposing the idea. An Arizona legislator who supports the idea said: “This is probably the purest form that anyone’s come up with in giving tax relief.”
What? Did he say tax relief? The state would have to raise taxes on motorists and non-motorists alike in order to subsidize driving habits. Either that, or cut services. More importantly, by encouraging people to drive, the Arizona legislature will cause more gasoline to be burned, increasing its price for everyone who doesn’t get the reimbursement (i.e., non-Arizonans). This will also further increase our dependence on Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters, and ever so slightly increase our national debt. It will put more strain on roads, which will need to be maintained with tax money. What’s the benefit to this cost? Helping to subsidize sprawl-based businesses at the expense of everyone else. David Brooks and Joel Kotkin notwithstanding, almost everyone who thinks about transportation thinks that the United States should be working to reduce the annual number of vehicle miles traveled. Instead, the Arizona House would like to increase it. I’m not sure how the Arizona state budget is shaping up, but if it is like most states’ there is no room to spare for anything. I imagine that other government-financed initiatives, for examples, schools, would be a better use of taxpayer’s money than a subsidy for motorists.
The bill is being pushed as a way to get people to take driving vacations.
Rep. Bill Konopnicki, R-Safford, said he hopes the proposal will stimulate the economy in the wake of the price of gas rapidly approaching $2.50 a gallon. “The idea is to help on the family vacation and get people out of town,” he said.
There is a reason the gas price is approaching $2.50: Too many people are driving too much. This bill will only encouraging people to drive even more! Like a lot of Republican thinking, this is a short-term measure that comes at the expense of long-term fiscal health. More importantly, this initiative speaks to the prevailing mentality in this country that the only way to have a good time is to drive somewhere, consume something or spend. How about helping the economy by encouraging people to save their money and get out of debt? How about encouraging people to stay in town and have a good time there?