It’s kind of surreal to find these two headlines in the same edition of the Denver Post:
- Colo. jobless at 21-year high: “The unemployment rate hasn’t been this high since April 1988, when it was at 6.7 percent. It is also higher than the 6.3 percent rate reached during the depths of the dot-com bust from 2001 to 2003.”
- Doubling FasTracks sales tax gets nod: “On Wednesday, a majority of the Metro Mayors Caucus tentatively approved a plan to salvage FasTracks by asking voters for another 0.4 percent sales tax. The mayors, hoping to see the entire $6.9 billion expansion finished by 2017, are gambling that voters will maintain support for the project despite higher costs and some of the weakest economic conditions in the past half-century.”
The weak economy is the most striking source of irony here, but it’s not the only reason for metro Denver area voters to be skeptical of the proposed tax increase. As land use and transportation expert Randal O’Toole so ably points out in a new Independence Institute report, the 16 deceptions in RTD’s FasTracks proposal (PDF) include disproven claims about the light-rail plan’s costs, benefits, alternatives, and more.
So, sorry, Metro Mayors Caucus. The painful (and laughable) timing of the tax hike announcement is only the tip of the iceberg. A lot more will have to be done to steer the project clear of a Titanic-like collision. After all, there is much, much more you would have to overcome before voters should be convinced to support the expensive, overpriced, inefficient, unclean encroachment known as FasTracks.