The congestion tax is dead. Long live the congestion tax!

It didn't take long for the liberal alliance to backtrack on the Stockholm congestion tax.

After first saying the the desires of the residents of surrounding counties would be honored, the liberal alliance has now declared its intention to go forward with the Stockholm road charging system.

Tobbe observed today that Stockholm's mayor Kristina Axén Olin has attempted to redefine the tax in terms of where the money will go. “It's not a congestion tax,” she said. “It's the ability to finance the ring highway around the city.” Axén Olin made these comments during an interview on a morning television news program.

Somehow I doubt that the vast majority of people who voted against the tax are pursuaded by her verbal legerdemain.

Certainly, if the road charging system goes forward, it's better that the funds collected are earmarked for expenditures related to making transportation — and in particular, road transportation — better in the Stockholm area. Residents of Stockholm's suburbs will pay the lion's share of the fees, so it's only fair that they benefit the most.

I'm very disappointed that the liberal alliance lacks the courage to put the question up for a new county-wide referendum.

The government wants to call it a fee instead of a tax, and to earmark the funds for a particular highway project. If the people think that these changes make the road charging system more palateable, they'll vote for it. If not, then the fees shouldn't be forced on an unwilling populace. Or can the voters not be trusted make the right decision?

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