BandA wrote:I don't have data for NH, but MA state budget for transportation is <2%!! I think it was 7% like 5-6 years ago. Whereas health & human services is 55% and education 18%. Health & human services was 50% 5-6 years ago!!!
Rural areas don't generate the revenue, but in MA the spending goes disproportionately to big, urban, poor areas which are concentrated in Eastern MA. Also the cities and towns rely on property tax revenue (NH even more due to no personal income tax).
75% of Mass' population is in Metro Boston (planned by the MAPC and roughly equivalent to the MBTA service area if you pair-swap some cities in and out) and, I'd be quite sure, probably 90% or more of income and probably pushing 95% of property taxes, more than enough to "cover" almost any way you'd care to slice any budget (state, local, or state-and-local, or fed-state-local) with money left over to export to rural portions of the state--particularly when human services covers things like opiate addiction.
Whether NH or MA, the combined effect of lower household money (income, home value, wealth) and having much fewer households per square mile quickly means the rural parts of the state can't afford modern infrastructure without help from urban areas. You see the true price (and unaffordability) when you look at how no private cable company or gas (or municipal water) utility can afford to extend unsubsidized service to these places...too few ratepayers per route mile. But we happen to have had statewide programs that subsidized telephone, electricity, and paved roads to rural areas. Where the subsidies went, the infrastructure followed. Where there weren't subsidies, the cable, water, & gas did not go.
Yet my impression is that the density of State Routes is roughly the same everywhere you go (in rural area, your house is much more likely to front on a State road (because they're nearly the only roads), versus, say Nashua, where it is more likely to front on a municipal road)
Using MA rural/urban data to analogize to New Hampshire, it is still the places closer to Boston that are going to have the higher value parcels, and to have more of them jammed together per square mile.
Nashua has an average home price of $250k (actually $259 according to Zillow) but we're swagging here. If those averaged 1/3ac lots, that's 2000 houses per square mile, or $500m in residences per square mile. Near Concord, if we swagged $200k homes on 1/2ac lots that's 200 x 1200 = $240m in residences per square mile. Get out where it's 1ac lots and it halves again to $120m in tax base per square mile (1/4 of Nashua). But real rural areas, we're talking probably one household per 10ac or 20ac and, bam, your base per square mile is just 64 or 32 households and, even if they're worth $1m or $2m, you can barely claw your way to just $64m per square mile..1/8th the property tax base per square mile that Nashua would have, and only 1/20th the number of households paying any other tax. When you see how much state-road-per-capita these rural places demand (Beyond per-capita costs like schools and human services) there's no way they're self-paying for their roads.
Then add the effect of commercial/industrial/office/retail real estate--even more clearly a creature/feature of urban areas--and you see that almost any kind of tax you devise (income, property, sales, gas) is going to be disproportionately paid by the denser more urban jurisdictions.
Ergo, rural voters have adopted the pioneer myth that they are self-reliant & free-living, having no memory that rural life didn't equal modern life until subsidies extended roads & electricity & phone (and later cell service) "out there" as part of an explicit New Deal / Great Society system of $ transfer from urban areas to rural via infrastructure that remains in place to this day. (in US Mail, FedEx, & UPS, rural customers are similarly subsidized in the name of universal service) The only unsubsidized utility that the free market actually delivers to rural areas is Satellite TV.