Infographic: State Property Tax Data

Credit Sesame has created an interactive map showing property tax rates for all 50 states. Based on data from the Tax Foundation, the graphic also shows property tax rates as a share of home value and as a share of median income of homeowners. It's important to note that property taxes can vary regionally within states, and property taxes are only one part of overall state and local tax burden.  read more »

Adjusting to Fiscal and Political Realities in Transportation Funding

As this is written, we do not know the exact level of funding the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will propose in its draft legislation, to be unveiled in the first week of July and marked up the following week. Nor do we know what level of funding the Senate Finance Committee will come up with. But we do know that both Houses will be obliged to propose far less funding than is contained in the current (FY 2010) surface transportation budget of $52 billion ($41 billion for highways, $11 billion for transit).  read more »

High Speed Rail Subsidies in Iowa: Nothing for Something

The Federal government is again offering money it does not have to entice a state (Iowa) to spend money that it does not have on something it does not need. The state of Iowa is being asked to provide funds to match federal funding for a so-called "high speed rail" line from Chicago to Iowa City. The new rail line would simply duplicate service that is already available.  read more »

Fwd: California's Bullet Train --- On the Road to Bankruptcy

For California’s high-speed rail boosters including their chief cheerleader, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the month of May must have felt like a month from hell. First came a scathing report by California legislature’s fiscal watchdog, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), questioning the rail authority’s unrealistic cost estimates and its decision to build the first $5.5 billion segment in the sparsely populated Central Valley between Borden and Corcoran.  read more »

Understanding the Egyptian Protests: Headwaters of the Arab Spring

On Tuesday, January 25, 2011, the leaders of the Egyptian protest group, April 6 Youth Movement (A6Y), led hundreds of thousands of protesters chanting, “Bread, Freedom, Human Rights” into Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The events that followed completely surprised the economic elites gathering for the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Few put much stock in the importance of the actions of young people in Egypt until the protests overturned that country’s entrenched power structure in a matter of weeks.  read more »

Bus Versus Train: A Dying Debate

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s cutbacks on its bus line, eliminating about 12% bus service, illuminate the problems of mass transit in LA, specifically the relative inefficiency of trains in the city. This 12% is a further reduction after the 4% cutbacks six months ago, sparking anger from the Bus Riders Union.  read more »

Vancouver Olympic Villiage Scandal Gets Worse

The Vancouver Olympic Village scandal continues to worsen.  During construction, the City of Vancouver was forced to take over financing of the project, as the developer’s initial lender backed out due to cost overruns.  At the end of last August, the developer fell behind its payment schedule, and the City placed the property into receivership in November.  The development has been a spectacular failure, with fewer than half of the 737 units being sold.  read more »

Chicago’s Unique Population Loss of the 1 Million Plus Cities

There are only 9 cities in the United States with populations over 1 million. The list includes New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Philadelphia, Chicago, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. With this afternoon’s release of Census 2010 numbers for New York City, the final 2010 data is in.  read more »

Home Ownership and the American Dream

What defines the American Dream? A new poll by Big Builder reveals that one answer to this enduring question may be home ownership. A major portion of the American population (59%) believes that they are living the American Dream. Respondents distinguished owning a home as the second most important factor of the American Dream, just behind raising a family.  read more »

USDOT Rail Grants to Obligate Taxpayers

The US Department of Transportation has announced a competitive grant program to reallocate funding that was refused by Florida for a proposed high speed rail line from Tampa to Orlando. The line was cancelled by Governor Rick Scott because of the prospect for billions of dollars of unplanned obligations that could have become the responsibility of the state's taxpayers.  read more »