Saturday, January 05, 2008

What's the difference between a fee & a tax?

Answer: a tax is fairer.

Taxes are based on one's income & therefore one's ability to pay. Fees aint. They are based on where you live/work, or on you choosing a service like a drivers' license (although how much actual choice is involved is questionable).

The title is the link to an East Bay article on the proposed fees for the Mt. Hope Bridge. Down the road are fees for the Pell Bridge & perhaps even the Hutchinson Bridge (Sakonnet). Most of our legislators oppose them (haven't heard from newcome Coaty yet).

Fees slow down traffic. Ever been in one of these bridges lanes standing still for LONG periods of time?

Fees are based on where you live, not your ability to pay. Many of us are on an island- we NEED bridges for our daily lives. Newport & to a lesser extent, Middletown contain large pockets of poverty (we meet or come close to our 10% affordable housing quote). These fees can amount to sizeable amounts stretched out daily over a month/year. These fees apply to seniors, the handicapped, the poor, students, etc., not just those of us who can pay them without a second thought.

Even the public transportation system (such as it is) will have to hike fees. These new fees along with killer gas prices may well break the bank for some. Next time you're being served in a store/restaurant, strike up a conversation with the server. Ask where they live. Bet it's not on the island. Bet they have to cross a bridge. Bet they're not earning a "living wage."

A few years ago (okay, more than a few) I was a summertime URI student. I was broke & living at home job searching. I decided that more education was the key to employment at the time & decided to take some CHEAP courses (yes, they were cheap then). To cut costs even further, I decided that public transportation was just the ticket (I also had no car). That extra $ which the ticket cost to cover the Pell Bridge hurt, but the savings helped get me through (I had borrowed tuition monies from my grandmother).

This area is milked for everything (tourism, gambling, etc.) & this is where to draw that line. No more bridge fees!

BTW, this is what no new taxes gets you- killer fees everywhere. No problem for you?- you're the lucky one then. Many others aren't & have no actual, real choice about where they live, work, or travel to. I'm also thinking of a friend who frequently travels off-island to check on her Mom and another who does vice-versa. Screwed yet again in the name of "faireness."

Here is another link from Projo. Most area legislators are signed on as being against this proposal but not all. Rice & Amaral are against raising fees but did not sign the letter. No statements from Long or Paiva-Weed or Jackson. Rep. Gallison (Bristol) is introducing legislation to block the Turnpike Authority from re-instituting bridge fees on the Mt. Hope Bridge. Says Rep. Rice (my rep):

Newport County residents shouldn’t be the ones to bail the authority out from its fiscal problems, Rice said.“I understand the state is in a crisis, but we can’t have residents and people who live on Aquidneck Island bear the brunt,” Rice said. “We need to find some efficiencies somewhere.” (Daily News)

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