Yesterday, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell made headlines for proposing that the best way to pass higher taxes is to kidnap Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist. The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard first reported on Rendell’s remarks, which were made on a Bloomberg Government conference panel that also featured former Transportation Department Secretary Ray LaHood:
Without more money to fix America’s roads, ports and airports, “our backs are against the wall,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the Democratic Party leader from 1999-2001. “What alternative to we have? I mean, kidnap Grover Norquist? What alternative do we have?” he said.
Norquist responded by pointing out that a better approach would be to repeal laws that artificially inflate the cost of transportation projects:
“If I might suggest an alternative to kidnapping me and raising taxes on the American people, Rendell should help ATR repeal costly federal labor mandates that inflate the cost of construction projects,” Norquist told Secrets. “Let’s repeal the Davis-Bacon Act and get rid of Project Labor Agreements which would free up $10 billion annually. You can build a lot of roads with that.”
However, if Rendell wants to know who to blame insufficient transportation funding, he can start by looking in the mirror. During Ed Rendell’s time as governor, the Pennsylvania government spent $417 billion. Had spending growth been limited to the rate of growth in population and inflation, a key metric of fiscal sustainability, Pennsylvania would’ve spent $51 billion less during the Rendell administration.
Simply put, had Rendell governed in a fiscal responsible and sustainable manor, Pennsylvania would have billions in savings to spend on transportation infrastructure upkeep and expansion. This would be a preferable approach from a policy standpoint and, as opposed to kidnapping Grover Norquist, has the advantage of not being a class A felony.