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More Taxes for California’s Roads… Again.

Another pothole Mercury News
If you live in the badly tarnished ‘Golden State’, California’s legislature just picked your pocket again, promising this time they won’t divert the revenue stream to their pet projects.  The state’s gas taxes and vehicle fees are already among the highest in the nation and yet the roads have continued to crumble over decades.  You may have travelled in other states, over hundreds of miles of smooth 2-lane highways and wondered how it is they are able to maintain their roads, even their backroads, with small budgets.  There is a good reason.

California has been raiding the gas tax revenues for years and diverting the fund to nebulous general fund expenditures.  The state has been spending billions on a train that doesn’t exist yet and when it does it won’t deliver what the voters were promised.  Not one private sector dollar has been raised for the not-so-fast train, so it may cost taxpayers an additional $1 billion a year to operate according to an expert in this LA Times article. 

According to this Orange County Register column, the state holds the record for the most inefficient state highway bureaucracy in the U.S.  California’s bureaucracies spend 5 times more per mile on highway and road maintenance than the national average, yet they show the least amount of progress in fixing the roads.

Despite the obvious waste and abuse of the current system, the one-party supermajority pushed  a 12 cent a gallon tax cut through in a matter of days recently.  Not to mention a hefty plus increase in car registration fees, up to $175 per year.  The deed was done in a matter of days, and the actual bill was only available for viewing for just a few hours before the vote.

One Democrat, newly elected Assemblyman Josh Newman, questions whether the billions raised will be used for the stated purpose.  He proposes an amendment to the constitution, voted on by the citizens of California, which would require that the new taxes can be spent on transportation projects and road improvements.   We would go one step further and require it be spent ONLY on existing road and highway maintenance and re-paving.  We’ve had enough of the trendy feel-good bus stop, light rail and sidewalk make-overs.

Newman told the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee that said his proposed constitutional amendment is needed because “prior history raises concerns that new revenue may be diverted for other purposes.”  Finally, someone willing to point out that the Emporer is wearing no clothes.

Republicans have criticized the state for taking $1 billion annually from truck weight fees and using the money to pay down general obligation bonds for transportation projects when those bonds in the past were covered by the general fund.

When the gas tax passed, the LA Times shared stories of the pay-offs for needed votes for this tax hike, including promises of more mass transit projects.  So some lawmakers are bribing other lawmakers, with our money, to secure votes for spending more of our money.

Here’s the bill.  You might want to play a game of ‘find the loopholes’, or perhaps ‘find the pork’

Who’s to blame?

Here are the list of California legislators who voted for this huge tax without first looking where they can streamline the growing agencies, boards, and bureaucracies on the state, regional, county, and city level.  Click on Assembly and Senate links on this LegiScan page to see who is to blame.  Then add your comment at the bottom.