The Electric Commentary

Friday, January 18, 2008

Chicago Transit Doomsday, Part 4,004,876

We recently had another CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) doomsday. This happens about twice a year. During a doomsday, the trains and buses of Chicago make announcements every 30 seconds or so at a very high volume telling you that on x date (x = January 20th, in this case), if they do not get more state funding, y routes will be cut (in this case, y = 81), and fares will go up.

Eventually, the state always caves, but it's always just a band-aid, and we get another doomsday in a few months.

This time, the state and the CTA have allegedly found a permanent funding solution, and this is where he story gets interesting.

It will not shock you to learn that, rather than cut costs and fire a few Strogers, they chose to raise taxes:

The measure solves public transit funding for now, with a price tag of $530 million. On April 1, the sales tax will increase by a quarter-cent per dollar in Cook County and twice that in the suburbs. And Chicagoans are expected to face higher taxes on home sales.

The Governor of Illinois is Rod Blagojevich (pronounced Bla-goy-a-vich), and when he ran for reelection recently he pledged to not raise taxes. As he chose to break that promise and raise taxes to fund the CTA, he felt that it was necessary to do something else to distract from his promise-breaking ways.

Now, what could you do to deflect criticism...let's see. I know! Old people! Do you like old people? I know that I like old people. I know! Let's give old people free rides on the CTA! Everyone will like that!

The final votes came after Blagojevich, seeking to beat back the political fallout from breaking his long-held vow to veto a sales-tax increase, added a provision offering seniors free rides. The change nearly derailed the legislation over concerns that other deserving groups, such as the disabled, should get the same perk, and that rich seniors shouldn't qualify.

"All's well that ends well," Blagojevich said. "I think the wait was well worth it because the result is very, I think, significant for the people in the Chicagoland area as well as for our senior citizens all across Illinois who are going to see an improvement in their quality of life."

Rod has been appearing with an entourage of old people everywhere he goes. This is probably some of the worst pandering I've ever seen. He basically is trying to bribe his voters with a policy that has to make the size of the tax increase - which is the reaon for the bribe - bigger. Nice. Well played.

As the old saying goes, when you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the support of Paul. Of course, the baby-boom generation will shortly be retiring and entering the age where they can ride CTA for free because of this act of political cowardice. At that point, they will face a true CTA doomsday.


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