John Locke Update / Research Newsletter (Archive)

Rail Transit and Local Spending

posted on in Local Government

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Besides hoping for rain, I have three issues on my mind today.


1. The inconvenient facts about rail transit keep pestering North Carolina’s political elites who push multibillion-dollar rail projects to nowhere. They reason that if others ride the trains, there will be fewer cars creating congestion so that they can drive their cars unimpeded. Joel Kotkin provides the inconvenient facts here.


2. State and local governments spend ten times their 1950 level, while the private sector increased only five times. This graph from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University tells the story.


Because state and local governments depend on the private sector for their tax revenue, this path is not sustainable; state and local government spending cannot continually outpace the wealth-creating sector of the economy.



3. Speaking of local spending: One of the tactics used by some commissioners is to schedule special single-issue sales tax increase votes outside the regular May primary or November general elections.  Robeson County’s vote Aug. 3 is just one recent example. The result was an extremely low turnout. Just 4.3 percent of the registered voters turned out and voted. Only 2,052 voters voted for the tax increase, which was only 2.9 percent of the registered voters. 


It seems that Watauga County commissioners are counting on a low voter turnout Aug. 31 to win their sales tax increase vote. See our latest report here.

Michael Sanera is Director of Research and Local Government Studies at the John Locke Foundation. He served as a policy analyst for the Washington, DC based The Heritage Foundation, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the California based Claremont Institute. ...

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