Greeson: As far as passing taxes goes, a gas tax will bring relief

Greeson: As far as passing taxes goes, a gas tax will bring relief

April 20th, 2017 by Jay Greeson in Opinion Columns

Related Article

House, Senate approve slightly different versions of Haslam gas tax bill

Read more

Related Article

Lawmakers envision final action on Monday for Haslam's IMPROVE Act

Read more

Jay Greeson

Jay Greeson

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Related Article

Report: Chattanooga drivers lose $1,500 a year because of insufficient roads

Read more

On three different pages of Wednesday's Times Free Press, there were stories detailing the growing issues with our roads.

In truth, there are few bigger responsibilities of our elected leadership than the state of roads. Count schools, health care and public safety right up there.

Almost all taxpayers use roads.

Despite their heavy use, roads have routinely been neglected.

With that knowledge — and the staggering number AAA cited Tuesday that the sad state of our roads locally cost each Chattanoogan almost $1,500 per year — the state leaders made the right call backing Gov. Haslam's gas tax.

This is not about political position. This is about political practicality.

Those three stories in Wednesday's paper included a preview of the governor's efforts to get the gas tax passed and the AAA story, which featured some eye-popping stats.

Among them:

  •  TRIP, a national transportation research group based in Washington, D.C., claims Tennesseans lose $6 billion a year because of vehicle damage from decaying roads, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays;
  •  Travel on Tennessee roads increased almost 10 percent from 2013-16;
  •  One third (33 percent) of local and state-managed roads are in poor or mediocre condition;

The third story was a few paragraphs in a collection of short news items that reflected the growing strain on the funding for state roads. The open container law was shelved again, meaning another $18 million from this year's budget that would have been offered from the federal government must be redirected to monitor and enforce drinking and driving laws.

We are at a breaking point, and it flips a double- edged argument at the conservatives against the tax, primarily because most conservatives are against almost all new taxes. Hey, I get it, and I am conservative, too.

Except this.

How many times have we heard the important clamor for reeling in federal spending, in large part because we don't want to leave our kids with a monster debt burden? It's a noble argument.

But do we want to leave our kids with a dilapidated road system that will cost three times more a decade from now?

Do we want new taxes? Of course not. That's like asking if we want a root canal.

We may not want a root canal, but if we ignore the fact that we need that work done, the outcome will be far more painful — and ultimately more expensive — than handling it in the moment.

Contact Jay Greeson at and 423-757-6343. His "Right to the Point" column runs on Page A2 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315