Last night was the quarterly Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) meeting at my kids' school.
Parents are required to attend PTO meetings so we can learn about all the great things going on at school and all the activities, calendar and staff updates, and sporting events we can support.
And while all of that is great - there is one thing to remember about the PTO meetings - you always have to bring your checkbook.
There is always a fundraiser of some sort during the PTO meetings. Whether we're being asked to participate in an auction, a sales drive, or to buy more school spirit wear - the PTO seems to always ask for more and more money. And none of the parents ever seem to know where it goes.
But last night was different.
Last night, the treasurer reported on some of the things our PTO donations have bought (furniture for some of the classrooms) and some of the things our PTO funds will buy (updated equipment for our computer lab) and it changed everything.
There was a collective sigh from all the parents in the room. Knowing exactly where our donations go makes giving so much easier.
The experience last night is similar to what I've found as I've traveled the state speaking with various civic groups. I've talked frankly about the tremendous amount of deferred maintenance throughout our transportation system. I've talked about the hundreds of millions of dollars needed for new construction across all modes. I've talked about the additional investments we'll need to maintain the infrastructure we have and to build what we need so our state can be competitive. And I've been honest about where those additional revenues will have to come from - their pockets.
And, so far, people are supportive as long as their money is spent on repairing and building their roads, bridges, airports, rail lines, and transit systems.
But that's no surprise. We all want to know where our money goes. It doesn't matter if we're talking about a donation to the PTO, a purchase we've made at a store, or the fee we pay to use our roads and bridges.
And the thing is, just like the purchase of some new equipment in my kids' computer lab, as soon as we make these additional investments - we begin to see the rewards. As soon as revenues are available we can replace the 70 closed bridges in the state, complete some long awaited resurfacing projects at our airports, realign some rail crossings for the benefit of all the users, replace our aging buses, and complete some road projects that have been needed for years.
People like to know their money is spent wisely and that they'll see a return on their investment.
What else, other than infrastructure provides that kind of guarantee?