I can't remember when cutting taxes was not part of politicians' platforms, outraged citizens' groups demands, and conservative PAC's mission statements.

The reality of cutting taxes means our local, state and federal services will be required to operate, at an increasing demand and coverage requirement, with a decreasing budget.

Even with a recession, inflation has been part of all our daily lives.

With that condition, how will cutting taxes increase the efficiency and quality of public services and government programs that benefit all of us and are relied upon by all of us?

Our roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure are in disgraceful conditions. Routine maintenance, recommended and required improvements and needed replacements have been delayed and ignored for far too long due to budget constraints.

The federal gas tax, the prime source of money for these programs, has not been increased in the last 30 years. With inflation, the working budget has, in fact, decreased for an ever-increasing demand.

The nation's and South Carolina's roads and bridges are in dire need of repair, improvement and replacement.

The money required for these programs comes from gasoline taxes, part of the price per gallon all of us pay.

None of us wants to pay more for anything. However, not repairing, improving or replacing roadways and bridges will cost much more than a few cents increase in the amount of the gas tax.

The cost of replacing a tire (pothole, misalignment of pavement, other roadway damage) is about $80 per tire; wheel alignment, $100; new rim, $30.

Should the federal gas tax increase by 5 cents a gallon, based on a 20 gallon fill up, your cost would be an additional $1 each fill up. If you fill up every week, it's $52 per year, far less than any damage repair to your car. Another 1 cent for South Carolina would add 20 cents a week, $10.40 per year.

Don't think you can afford that? Cut out Starbucks once a month.

It is time to increase the gas tax. It is also time to stop screaming about taxes.

We can't afford not to have police, fire, libraries, DSS, education, services for the disabled, public parks, and so many other services and locations that are taken for granted.

The cumulative effect of an increase of such small amounts per person enhances the lives and conditions for all of us.

Joanne Hafter

White Falls Drive

Columbia