Based on what we know today, including 40 percent cost overruns, revenue shortfalls, and the trivial amount of congestion relief that FasTracks is expected to provide, would you still have endorsed the 2004 FasTracks ballot measure? If so, then what are you going to do to make sure you are not again hoodwinked by bureaucrats who want to spend more tax dollars on future megaprojects? And if not, then who will you really represent: the voters, or the bureaucracies and special interest groups that want to take as much money as possible from those voters?
Even nice guys who run for governor have to answer important questions. Based on his recent record failing to address other pressing issues, I am not holding my breath for any answers from John Hickenlooper.
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.
The Denver Post reports today that the price tag for Regional Transportation District (RTD)’s taxpayer-funded FasTracks plan has jumped again:
The price of the FasTracks rail expansion â€” if it is to be completed by 2017, as promised to voters â€” has jumped from $6.1 billion to $7.9 billion, according to officials familiar with RTD’s latest analysis of the program.
Approved by voters in 2004 for $4.7 billion, estimates later rose to $6.1 billion – a 30 percent increase. Now they have skyrocketed to $7.9 billion, nearly 70 percent higher than original estimates. According to the Post, RTD either has to narrow the scope of the project, delay its implementation, or ask for more tax money:
Centennial Mayor Randy Pye, who heads the 37-member Metro Mayors Caucus, said Wednesday that “the option of a tax increase is not palatable to the mayors.”