Imagine you're blasting down I-90 near the Badlands when you see the following sign, "Toll booth. 2 miles ahead."
There's a provision in President Obama's $300 billion transportation bill that would allow states to start charging tolls on existing free interstate highways. States can currently only charge tolls on interstate highways that are being expanded.
Generally, I'm very much in favor of user fees or taxes levied against those who use services most. For instance, the gas tax is a perfect way to charge motorists for maintenance of the roads on which they're driving. The more you drive, the more gas you purchase, the more tax you pay. It makes sense.
However, I fear states will be clamoring to start charging tolls. We've all heard about the reduction in federal transportation dollars going to states for necessary road construction and repair. The toll is a carrot that few states will be able to resist.
At what point can we acknowledge that people pay enough in taxes? When do we start holding government accountable for waste and fraud instead of finding new ways to collect revenue?
Toll booths on South Dakota interstates would be as foreign and out of place as the turnabout at 69th and Southeastern in Sioux Falls.The idea of toll booths along our interstate highways just seems completely contrary to our rural and independent nature.
My friend, do not ask for whom the road tolls.
One day soon...it may toll for thee.
Greg Belfrage @belfrageshow is heard 6am-9am on KELO 1320 AM and 107.9 FM. Greg can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.