DOUG ROSS: Good luck weaving around those spending gaps

2013-04-26T00:00:00Z DOUG ROSS: Good luck weaving around those spending gapsDoug Ross doug.ross@nwi.com, (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 nwitimes.com

In recent weeks, I've been weaving around on U.S. 30, U.S. 421 and other highways. My driving would look suspicious to anyone who couldn't see I've been dodging potholes.

Potholes are one of the most visible signs of the need for government spending. When you see a gap in the pavement, think of it as a spending gap.

There are other spending gap symbols, as Hoosiers in northern Lake County could tell you. The former Cline Avenue Bridge will be replaced by a toll road because the state refuses to pay its share of the cost of replacing the bridge.

Or stand on a corner in Hammond and wait for a bus to pick you up. Those buses stopped running nearly a year ago.

Taxes and government spending are especially timely now.

The Lake County Council could vote today to implement an income tax, becoming the last Indiana county to do so.

The federal budget sequester has resulted in the cancellation of the South Shore Air Show in Gary, and additional flight delays should be expected.

And Indiana officials are set to create what Gov. Mike Pence called "the largest state tax cut in Indiana history."

The Republican-controlled Legislature is poised to cut the income tax 5 percent, in stages, and immediately eliminate the state's inheritance tax. A previously approved 1 percent cut in the corporate income tax rate and a reduction in a special tax paid by banks, combined with the newest tax cuts, will mean a $1.1 billion reduction over the next two years.

Here's hoping there isn't a rainy day that catches the state with its waders down.

What worries me about this state tax cut is that it fuels a belief that taxes are inherently bad, and that government is necessarily evil. Neither is true.

If it weren't for taxes, you wouldn't have police and fire protection. Dangerous criminals wouldn't be locked up. You wouldn't have restaurant inspections. You wouldn't have roads or airports. The list goes on.

Government is there to protect you, not fleece you. The question is how much protection you need, and in what form.

The new Indiana budget agreement will cut back on some of the protections and amenities you currently enjoy.

For example, dwindling gas tax revenues — people are driving less, and vehicles with alternative fuels don't help fund road repairs — means the state either fills fewer potholes or taps a general fund losing money fast because of these new tax cuts.

I like money in my pocket, but I also know how much damage a pothole can do to a car. You know what's coming, don't you?

I'll see you on the highways as we all weave around those spending gaps.

Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Doug.Ross@nwi.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/doug.ross1 and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

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