You get what you pay for, and there's a significant difference between frugality and allowing our best assets to deteriorate to a state of functional ruin.
Both of those observations justify the most important tax and fee increases enacted by the Indiana General Assembly in 2017.
No one wants to see shrinking finances, and it's entirely appropriate for everyone to watch proposed government tax increases with a questioning eye.
For years, the Indiana Legislature has been a skeptical steward, resisting tax increases as fixes to state needs, and that's admirable.
It's much like a family trying to get as many years out of a home's roof as possible before replacing it. Eventually, though, leaks spring, the roof begins to fail, and putting off the expense is no longer an option if the family wants to keep their heads and important home assets dry.
The same can be said for the bulk of some 45 new tax or fee increases Hoosiers soon will pay following the 2017 legislative session.
Most important are new taxes we'll pay — along with anyone else who buys fuel while traveling Hoosier roads.
We've heard some critics balk at the 10-cent-per-gallon fuel tax taking effect July 1. Clearly, no one cheers for having to pay more at the pump.
However, it's worth noting improving technologies in fuel efficiency have reduced the cost of driving.
We've put off long-term funding fixes for road improvement and maintenance for too long, and it shows in potholes, bumps and cracks on some of Indiana's most traveled and economically important roadways and bridges. The tax will begin restoring one of the state's most important infrastructure assets.
Without that asset, our state fails. It's as simple as that.
We'll also be paying $15 more to register vehicles at the BMV, again to aid in road maintenance. Both that plate fee and the gas tax are paid by the people who use our state roads, and thus create wear and tear. In the end, the Legislature enacted logical user fees to solve a statewide problem.
Some of the other increases enacted by our lawmakers this year have a direct correlation to the same rising costs we all face.
Most of our household bills rise with inflation. The bills our government pays are no different.
Our state government has historically done a good job ferreting out the needed from the excessive. It also is wise to maintain a budget reserve responsible for Indiana's triple-A bond rating, which means the state pays low interest on borrowed money.
Before we lament new taxes or fees — or accuse state leaders of “taxing and spending” — we should consider what our state would look like if we short-changed our most important assets.
In the end, all roofs spring leaks, requiring revenue for replacement and long-term maintenance.
A state enacting long-term funding plans for such necessities has served its taxpayers.