Friday, May 03, 2024

Americans for Prosperity Tennessee will not oppose Mayor O'Connell's proposed Transit Referendum


by Rod Williams, May 3, 2024- The director of the Tennessee chapter of the libertarian-leaning organization Americans for Prosperity posted on X yesterday that AFPTN was unlikely to oppose the upcoming transportation referendum. I am not displeased to see this.

I am still waiting to learn more about the proposal but what I see so far, I am also not opposed. I am not yet ready to be a cheerleader for the proposal, but of all of the transportation referendum ever before us, this is the only one I have not immediately opposed. Unlike some previous proposals, it does not include a massive tunnel through Tennessee granite. It does not take a major throughfare and put fixed rail down the center of the roadway, devouring traffic lanes. It is a modest proposal. It is practical. 

Our bus system needs improvements, we need more sidewalks, and our traffic signalization is in need of a major overhaul. While I wish these things could be done out of current revenue and generally think we are overtaxed, the amount of the sales tax increase is minuscule. On the other hand, this will make Nashville have one of the highest sales tax rates in the county. On the plus side however, people from outside of Davidson County will be paying the bulk of the tax. One of the reasons a dedicated tax is necessary, is that in order to acquire federal grants for transportation improvements, a dedicated tax supporting mass transit is required. 

I would still like to see a market-driven transportation system and have some thoughts on what I would like to see happen if I had my druthers. I will explain my vision of transportation in a future post. After years of hoping for a market-driven system to emerge, it is not happening in any meaningful way on a large scale anywhere, and we need transportation and improvements now. 

Back in the mid 80's as a freshman member of the Metro Council, I, along with a libertarian political activist by the name of Roger Bissell, led an effort to defeat a one cent gas tax referendum. I am proud of that effort in defeating the proposal. That effort gave us an opportunity to promote ideas of market solutions to public issues. Some of what we proposed, such as deregulation of taxi service and the allowing of ridesharing competition and other transportation alternative have happened. Now, it is hard to imagine how Nashville would function without Uber and Lyft. While I remain an advocate of market solutions to public issues, there is nothing in Mayor O'Connell's proposal that would preclude further emergence of market solutions. 

At this time, I am not opposed to the proposal before us. I will most likely vote in favor. 

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