When there’s an overriding need – skyrocketing use of heroin and resulting crimes, expansion of the interstate to handle gridlock, failing bridges, funding to boost economic development (think Pettengill Road), the place we all turn to is the federal government, followed quickly by state government.
Then we complain about taxes.
When disaster strikes in the form of a hurricane or a flood, a fire or a mudslide, we look to those same two sources for help. Funding and a quick response are what we take for granted.
Then we wax eloquent about fiscal responsibility, too much government interference in our lives, and, once again, taxes.
When politicians are running for reelection, they are quick to point out all the legislation they’ve sponsored and supported that benefits local areas. We don’t usually hear what the tax impact is of those bills.
Both of our U.S. Senators were in town last week, and both promised to work for specific New Hampshire needs – in Ayotte’s case, a fix to federal transportation funding to allow the establishment of state infrastructure banks that could help fund development of Pettengill Road in Londonderry and the establishment as well of a federal infrastructure bank, and in Shaheen’s case, money to aid in the battle of increasing heroin use, and more funding for services to treat addicts. Both Senators are focusing on legitimate concerns that aren’t limited to their state lines.
But these are also two of a virtually infinite number of requests for funding that legislators face every day. Couple that with the raucous cries for reduced government – its presence as well as what it pays for – and it’s easy to see why the federal government functions – or doesn’t function – at a stalemate.
How to prioritize? Everyone has their own special interest for federal and state funding, along with an equal reluctance to raise taxes. In New Hampshire, for example, we won’t consider a sales tax or gambling, even though it would bring in money from visitors as well as residents, and we won’t allow a state income tax. Then we complain about outrageous property tax rates.
Short of printing lots of new money, our options are limited. What would we like to do without? Cutting beds for the mentally ill, as the federal government did in the ‘70s, led to a rise in the homeless population and in crime. We are reaping the results to this day. Failing to repair aging infrastructure in our cities and highways gives us today’s astronomical costs.
We need money to address our problems. We also need a real dialogue on priorities, and what all of us are willing to pay.