Author Topic: California voters reject repeal of state gas tax and vehicle fee increase  (Read 4776 times)

Gemini

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Re: California voters reject repeal of state gas tax and vehicle fee increase
« Reply #48 on: November 07, 2018, 05:53:21 am »
California voters reject repeal of state gas tax and vehicle fee increase

Proposition 6, which would have repealed an increase in California’s gas tax, failed to win the majority vote needed for passage on Tuesday after Gov. Jerry Brown warned it would halt urgent repairs to the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.

Brown, who leaves office in January, said after the first vote tallies were announced that it was important that the initiative be defeated for the future of the state.

“This is one of the most significant votes in America tonight, because where else have people voted to tax themselves to pay for what they need?” Brown said to cheers at a Sacramento election watch party thrown by the initiative’s opponents.

“People know that you get what you pay for,” he added. “The people knew that the flim-flam of the yes people were exposed. When this Trump recession comes we’re going to have $5 billion going to transit and roads and bridges in California.”

Top Republicans including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox put the initiative on the ballot in hopes of boosting conservative voter turnout for the party’s candidates for Congress and governor.

At one point it appeared the initiative could be a defining issue for the state’s midterm election. The repeal effort gained momentum in June when backers succeeded in recalling state Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) over his vote for the higher taxes. Three weeks later, the repeal measure qualified for the ballot when those behind it turned in more than 585,000 signatures of registered voters.

But then the money from deep-pocketed Republicans dried up as GOP leaders shifted their attention to helping their party’s candidates in close congressional and state legislative races.

The more than $5 million raised by those pushing the repeal was eclipsed by the $47 million brought in by initiative opponents from the construction industry, organized labor and Democrats.

Initiative backers also said their campaign was disadvantaged by the ballot title placed on the measure by the state.

“We’ve known that politicians have been stealing our gas taxes for years and will continue to do that,” said Carl DeMaio, a Republican activist who headed the campaign. “Tonight we learned that they can also steal our votes by changing the ballot title on our initiative. We are not going to accept that. They think we are going to go away. No.”

He complained that the official title by state officials said the measure “eliminates certain road repair and transportation funding” without making it clear that it repeals new gas taxes.

Gov. Brown helped raise funds to defeat Proposition 6, which would have repealed Senate Bill 1, legislation approved by state lawmakers and signed by Brown in April 2017.

The legislation raised the state gas tax by 12 cents a gallon and boosted the diesel fuel tax by 20 cents a gallon. The measure also created a new annual vehicle fee ranging from $25 for cars valued at less than $5,000 to $175 for cars worth $60,000 or more.

In addition to repealing SB 1, the initiative would have also required state officials to obtain voter approval of all future increases to state gas taxes.

The initiative initially was leading in polls, but Brown and Democratic leaders launched an overpowering media blitz, arguing the $52 billion that would be generated during the first 10 years was needed to address a large backlog of road and bridge repairs, and help improve the state’s rail and bus systems.

With Brown about to leave office, many Capitol observers saw the massive transportation improvement program as a part of his legacy, one that was threatened by the repeal initiative.

“Killing Proposition 6 is the right thing to do,” Brown said at a campaign rally days before the election. “It’s a bad idea. It’s dangerous, and it was cooked up by some shady politicians who used their campaign funds because they thought they could fool the people. Well, the people aren’t fooled.”

In another campaign appearance, the governor said the measure was being “pushed by Trump’s Washington allies.”

The television and mail ad blitz from the measure’s opponents featured highway patrol officers, firefighters and engineers who said the loss of the road-repair money would jeopardize the safety of motorists.

DeMaio, a conservative radio show host and former San Diego City Council member, conceded defeat Tuesday night. He denounced what he called “deceptive ads saying that if you vote yes on Prop. 6 you are going to die in a car accident and the bridges are going to fall over.”

Cox and other proponents of Proposition 6 argued the state’s gas prices were among the highest in the country and said previously approved fuel taxes were sufficient to keep California roads in good repair. They also called for the state to cancel the multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project.

DeMaio warned that the new taxes would continue to be diverted from road projects, noting the revenues from SB 1 also go to bike and pedestrian paths, rail projects and to the state parks and agriculture departments.

He has vowed to launch a ballot measure in 2020 to kill the bullet train and recall campaigns to “punish” Democratic politicians supporting the higher gas tax, including state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra, whose office drafted the ballot title.

DeMaio also said he might seek legal action to put the gas tax issue back on a future ballot by “showing a judge that fraud has occurred.”

He predicted that voter anger over the gas tax would continue to grow and would affect future state elections if Proposition 6 failed.

“How long before gas hits 4 ½, 5 dollars a gallon?” DeMaio asked at a news conference last week.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-proposition-6-gas-tax-increase-repeal-20181106-story.html


Gemini

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Initiative to repeal gas tax hike sparks debate over how transportation funds are spent in California

In urging California voters to repeal new fuel taxes, Republicans say the state already had enough money to repair roads but squandered it by diverting it to other state programs.

Legislative leaders deny that money from motorists has been misused. They say the law prohibits non-transportation projects from getting any of the more than $5-billion annual take from last year’s increase in gas and diesel taxes and vehicle fees.

The dispute has been a major focus of campaign ads and stump speeches by those pushing Proposition 6. Republican leaders have been pinning their hopes on voters being riled up by accusations that state officials have misspent gas tax funds.

“I find it to be a problem when they take gas tax monies that should go to road repairs and they divert it to everything but road repairs,” Proposition 6 campaign chairman Carl DeMaio said last week during a Sacramento debate with Matt Cate, the co-chairman of the campaign against the initiative.

Cate and Democratic elected officials dismiss DeMaio’s claims and say that a ballot measure approved in June further restricts the use of new fuel taxes and vehicle fees enacted as part of Senate Bill 1.

“Proponents of Proposition 6 are using a talking point that is equal parts brazen and baseless,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) said. “After voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 69 in June, SB 1 funds cannot and will not be diverted from transportation purposes.”

Rendon was among the state Democratic leaders who pushed through the legislation in April 2017 to raise the state gas tax by 12 cents a gallon, boost taxes on diesel fuel and create a new vehicle fee ranging from $25 to $175 annually, based on a car’s value.

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders said the new levies were necessary to address a $130-billion backlog in road and bridge repairs caused in part by the fact that the Legislature had not increased the gas tax in 23 years.

The first full year of new funding, in the fiscal year that began July 1, is expected to generate nearly $4.4 billion in revenue.

Most of the money will be set aside for improving roads and bridges. But 22% — nearly $1 billion in the first full year — will go to a broad mix of other projects, including mass transit, intercity rail, and bike and pedestrian paths. Transit and rail programs are covered by vehicle fees.

Other funds will go toward job training and administrative services for state transportation agencies.

In qualifying the repeal measure for the Nov. 6 ballot, DeMaio and Republican leaders have been especially critical of how the state has shifted funds to cover debt payments on Proposition 1B, a $19-billion transportation bond measure passed by California voters in 2006.

Voters agreed with arguments from then-Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former state Senate leader Don Perata (D-Oakland), who said the bonds would “make a real difference to the lives of millions of Californians, who will find it easier to get to work.”

Although most of the measure’s money went to improving highways, the bond projects also included $40 million to expand railroad tracks used by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. over Tehachapi Pass and to help eliminate a bottleneck in Colton that delayed Union Pacific and BNSF trains.

Some public officials objected at the time to using public bond funds to help private railroad companies, saying the voters who approved the bonds intended them to fix roads. State transportation officials said the rail projects helped California’s economy by improving the flow of goods.

Those transportation bond payments were covered at first by the state’s general fund, which also pays for most other public programs, including schools, prisons, public safety and social services.

But in 2007, the state began using money from fuel taxes for the more than $1 billion in debt service on the bonds, freeing up that amount in the general fund for other programs.

The state stopped that practice in 2010 and instead began using truck weight fees to service the Proposition 1B debt. Before those shifts, the weight fees and fuel excise taxes went into the State Highway Account, which paid for state highway rehabilitation projects and maintenance.

Fuel taxes in place before SB 1 continue to go into that fund, but the new tax revenue goes to new, restricted accounts, including one for road maintenance and rehabilitation.

Last year, the debt service on the Proposition 1B bonds included $499.6 million in principal, $795 million in interest and $481,000 in fees. Since 2010, the state has paid $4.9 billion in interest on the bonds.

The use of gas tax money and then truck weight fees to pay debt service drew objections from state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), an accountant who previously served as Orange County treasurer and tax collector.

Money “should have come out of the general fund to pay the debt,” he said. “It’s a little bookkeeping shuffle. Now the state is coming and saying, ‘Oh geez, we need to fix roads.’ Well you had the money to fix roads. You just allocated them to somewhere else.”

Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), chairman of the state Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, defended using truck weight fees to pay bond debt.

“The money is actually going to transportation projects,” Beall said of the bond debt. “The advantages far exceed the interest cost by repairing the roads quicker and getting them done before they start falling apart even worse. It’s cheaper to do it with bonds.”

Proposition 6 supporters have also noted that for the last nine years, the state Department of Motor Vehicles has transferred money to the general fund — $89 million in the current budget — from processing fees charged to insurance companies and others for requesting driver information.

H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the state Finance Department, said that money has “never been considered to be vehicle revenues.”

From 2013 to 2015, the state also loaned the high-speed rail project $54 million from a transportation account funded by the sales tax on diesel fuel. The loan has not yet been repaid, officials said.

DeMaio has also criticized the use of $34 million from the State Highway Account over the last five years for a program that creates bike lanes and pedestrian walkways and makes sidewalks accessible to the disabled.

He says that fuel fees should go only to roads and that bike and pedestrian lanes should be funded by the tax on car sales.

“There is great frustration when people find that there is no money for potholes, but we are removing lanes to do these dedicated bike lanes,” DeMaio said. “We believe bike lanes should be additive, not subtractive. It shouldn’t be an either-or; it should be a both.”

But the state has proposed spending $1 billion of SB 1 money over the next 10 years on such projects, and on providing sidewalk improvements and safe routes to schools.

“They are part of the transportation system,” Beall said. “It’s not a significant amount, but if we can get more people to use bicycle paths and that kind of transportation, it helps everybody.”

The official name of SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act, is misleading, said Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), vice chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee.

Because the new law was pitched largely as funding for road repairs, “Californians are going to be upset, and they should be upset,” when hundreds of millions of dollars instead go to other programs, Fong said.

Beall said supporters of SB 1 were clear throughout the debate that the measure would fund transportation needs besides roads, including mass transit.

“The transit does get cars off the road. That’s why we do it,” Beall said. “It’s a wise investment.”

State Senate leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said all spending under SB 1 has been restricted by the California Constitution.

The document says all taxes on fuels for motor vehicles used on public roads can be used only for “research, planning, construction, improvement, maintenance, and operation of public streets and highways [and their related public facilities for nonmotorized traffic]” as well as the same purposes for mass transit.

“No gas tax money has been used for purposes other than those explicitly allowed,” Atkins said.

But Proposition 6 backers say the definition of what constitutes allowable transportation spending is too broad under the Constitution, and they have proposed a 2020 ballot measure to dedicate all fuel tax money to road and bridge projects.

In criticizing the current definition as too broad, initiative backers note that new transportation revenue also includes up to $50 million during the next decade for local governments to provide job training to people, including those just out of prison, so they can work on transportation projects.

About $79 million a year in tax money from gas pumped into off-road vehicles and boats will go to the general fund for state parks department programs during the next decade, while $26 million a year in gas and diesel taxes for farm equipment, including tractors, will go to the state Department of Food and Agriculture.

“When you look at the debate on SB 1, there is a significant amount of money that isn’t for road projects — that goes to parks, that goes to labor programs, that goes to non-road infrastructure,” Fong said.

The agriculture agency will use the fuel taxes it gets to pay for inspections and keeping produce-harming pests from the state through point-of-entry terminals. Parks officials said fuel tax money from off-road vehicles will be spent on programs including increased law enforcement, environmental monitoring and maintenance.

Another $70 million is pegged to go to state universities during the next decade for transportation research.

Atkins defended the existing spending plan.

“Nothing in Senate Bill 1, or its companion constitutional amendment approved by the voters in June of 2018, changed the limited uses of gas tax revenues,” she said.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-gas-tax-diversion-20181018-story.html

Gemini

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Re: How fighting climate change will raise California gas prices even higher
« Reply #46 on: October 02, 2018, 03:51:52 pm »
How fighting climate change will raise California gas prices even higher

Last year the California Legislature raised gasoline taxes by 12 cents a gallon, and conservatives were so outraged they launched an effort to repeal it at the ballot box. Proposition 6 comes up for a vote in November.

Now, with considerably less fanfare, the state’s air-pollution agency has enacted a regulation that will raise gas prices as much as 36 cents a gallon by 2030 – and diesel by 44 cents. Californians already pay an average $3.73 a gallon for gas, or 85 cents above the national average.

The projected increases are part of the latest effort by the California Air Resources Board to fight climate change. The board last week voted to strengthen the state’s “low carbon fuel standard,” a fairly obscure regulation that requires oil refiners and makers of other fuels to reduce the “carbon intensity” of their products, including the greenhouse gases generated during production and distribution of the fuels.

As it is, the seven-year-old regulation costs California motorists an estimated 12 cents a gallon at the pump, according to Irvine energy consultant Stillwater Associates. The oil industry, which has been fighting the Air Resources Board over the rule for years, said the latest decision makes a bad regulation even worse.

“The cost of this program, given these increases, is definitely impactful on consumers,” said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western States Petroleum Association. “It really is a hidden gas tax that takes more out of the pockets of consumers.”

Reheis-Boyd said oil companies support efforts to curb greenhouse gases but “you don’t want to bring unnecessary economic harm to your state.”

Officials with the Air Resources Board defend the low carbon regulation as an effective weapon that’s eliminated 35 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere since its inception.

Last week’s decision “will take California’s climate fight up another notch,” board Chairwoman Mary Nichols said in a prepared statement.

The fuel standard isn’t as well known as California’s “cap-and-trade” program, which forces food processors, cement makers and other industrial firms to reduce carbon emissions. Cap-and-trade requires fuel wholesalers to reduce emissions as well, and the costs of compliance are raising by gas prices by an estimated 10 to 12 cents a gallon. That’s in addition to the higher costs caused by the low carbon fuel standard.

The low carbon rule goes beyond the cap-and-trade mechanism. Not only does it measure fuels’ carbon content, it also takes into account the emissions generated when those fuels are manufactured and distributed – from the carbon spewed into the air by refineries to the emissions from rail cars that haul Midwest corn to California as feedstock to produce the fuel additive ethanol.

Fuel manufacturers who can’t meet the standard must buy credits from clean-fuel manufacturers whose products, such as ethanol, surpass the standard. Electric utilities can generate credits, too, when their infrastructure is used to charge electric cars.

When fuel manufacturers buy credits, the costs they incur are passed on to motorists in the form of higher gas and diesel prices. The carbon standard gets a little stricter each year, and the cost of credits has risen. That’s putting more upward pressure on fuel prices – a trend that will continue in the next decade with the newly revised standards.

The old regulation required fuel makers to lower their “carbon intensity” by 10 percent in 2020, as compared to 2010 levels. The new regulation will require them to gradually reduce carbon intensities by 20 percent by 2030, also compared to the 2010 baseline.

Dave Hackett, president of the Stillwater firm, said California is finding it’s tougher to reduce the “carbon intensity” than originally believed. The new regulation actually takes a step back in one sense; the new target for 2020 is just a 7.5 percent reduction in carbon instead of the original 10 percent, and then inches up each year to a 20 percent target in 2030.

Hackett said achieving a 20 percent reduction won’t be easy. “Getting past 10 percent is going to be an interesting struggle,” he said.

Recognizing the difficulty in reducing carbon from the transportation sector, the new regulation will increase the rebates for motorists to buy carbon-free electric vehicles by augmenting incentive programs run by SMUD, PG&E and many of the state’s other electric utilities. The utilities are participants in the low-carbon program and generate credits when their infrastructure is used to charge electric cars’ batteries. They then sell those credits to oil companies and other fuel makers struggling to comply with the rules, generating cash for the car-buying incentives.

The incentives could go as high as $2,000 per vehicle but the numbers haven’t been finalized yet, said Air Resources Board spokesman David Clegern.

“We want to accelerate the sale of cars that replace gasoline with electricity,” Steven Douglas, of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, told the Air Resources Board last week.

Out-of-state fuel makers have been challenging the regulation in court for years, arguing that the rules penalize those shipping fuel and raw materials a long distance to California. That violates the U.S. Constitution, which forbids states from limiting interstate commerce, they argue. The courts ruled in favor of the California regulation in 2013 but a new challenge is pending in the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article219331435.html

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Re: Campaign to repeal gas tax short of cash, funds used on other contests
« Reply #45 on: September 30, 2018, 07:29:30 am »
Campaign to repeal gas tax short of cash as California Republican leaders focus funds on other contests

Top Republicans in California appear to be shifting resources away from an issue they hoped would lure voters to the polls in November: repealing the gas tax.

After contributing $1.7 million to put a repeal initiative on the November ballot, Republican congressional leaders and GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox are now conspicuously absent from the list of donors spending money to help convince Californians to pass the measure.

Construction firms, organized labor and Democrats have raised more than $30 million to defeat Proposition 6, while the main campaign committee in favor of the measure had just $83,291 in the bank as of Sept. 22, according to campaign finance statements made public Thursday.

The opposition campaign includes the California Chamber of Commerce, the League of California Cities and dozens of deep-pocketed construction firms and labor unions that would benefit from the tax’s billions targeted to road and bridge repair projects.

By qualifying Proposition 6, Republican leaders “hoped that voters would oppose [the gas tax] and, while they were at it, vote for Republicans [in congressional and legislative races] as well,” said Larry Gerston, professor emeritus of political science at San Jose State. “But once they saw the powerful coalition opposed to [Proposition] 6, they figured it was better to put their resources elsewhere.”

Republicans including Cox are advocating for repeal as part of their own campaigns. Cox is chairman of the Proposition 6 committee, having provided $250,000 last year to launch the petition drive to qualify the ballot measure.

Cox is highlighting his opposition to the increased gas tax and vehicle fees in his campaign appearances and ads.

“Our gas taxes make our gas prices among the highest in the country,” Cox said in a television ad that began running last month. A newer Cox ad blames Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom for “sky-high gas prices.”

Wayne Johnson, a senior strategist for the Cox campaign, said the candidate will continue to press the case for repeal.

“The special interests are pouring tens of millions into the effort to stop Proposition 6,” Johnson said. “We will not, nor do we need to match them in spending, for while they have millions of dollars, we have millions of voters who have simply had enough of the Sacramento politicians.”

The California Republican Party contributed $300,000 to the main Proposition 6 campaign committee while it was collecting signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. It has only provided $504 to the committee for email blasts since its qualification on June 25.

“The California Republican congressional delegation asked if we could provide support to the qualification effort,” state party spokesman Matt Fleming said. “We support Yes on 6, the repeal of the gas tax, but our discretionary resources are being focused on electing Republicans.”

Proposition 6 would repeal a law approved by the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown that raised the state gas tax by 12 cents per gallon and boosted the diesel fuel tax by 20 cents per gallon. The measure also created a new, annual vehicle fee ranging from $25 for cars valued at less than $5,000, to $175 for cars worth $60,000 or more.

Brown and Democrats said the more than $5 billion that would be raised annually is needed to tackle a large backlog of road and bridge repair projects, and to improve mass transit.

Republicans have argued that the tax is unnecessary and that previous gas taxes and vehicle fees were sufficient to make needed improvements to the transportation system.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gave $300,000 to the campaign during the qualification period, but he has not written a check to the committee since the measure made the ballot.

He declined to answer why he has not continued to contribute to the campaign, but he said he thinks voters will approve the measure.

“The gas tax hike remains immensely unpopular throughout the state and across party lines,” McCarthy said in a statement. “I support Proposition 6 and believe that this tax hike on hardworking Californians should be repealed.”

Other Republicans who donated to the campaign to qualify Proposition 6 but have not given since then include Reps. Ken Calvert of Corona, Devin Nunes of Tulare, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

Since the initiative made the ballot, the biggest Republican office-holder donations have been $10,000 from Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Beach) and $1,500 from state Senate Republican leader Patricia Bates of Laguna Niguel.

The lack of funding from Republican leaders is a sign that they are worried about having enough money for tight legislative and congressional races, said John J. Pitney Jr., professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College.

“They have only so much money in the till,” Pitney said. “They realize that many of their incumbents could lose their seats and that the party is in serious danger of losing the majority. They have to put resources directly into those critical races. They don’t have the luxury of financing a ballot measure in hopes that it might have the indirect effect of boosting GOP turnout in a Democratic state.”

Opponents of Proposition 6 have contrasted their committee’s level of support with the other side.

“We have 450 organizations opposing Prop. 6,” said Carolyn Coleman, executive director of the League of California Cities. “On the other hand, the proponents are playing politics with public safety — it’s no wonder they aren’t getting any traction.”

A poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 52% of likely voters oppose Proposition 6.

Without big checks from elected Republicans going to the Yes on Prop. 6, Repeal the Gas Tax committee, a second campaign committee, headed by former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, has moved to the forefront of the effort to pass Proposition 6.

That committee, called Reform California, Yes on 6, did not receive any of the congressional money before the measure qualified. It reported Thursday that it raised $636,526 between July 1 and Sept. 22, mostly in small contributions. It ended the period with $1.34 million in the bank for the last five weeks of the campaign.

DeMaio’s committee announced Friday that it has spent $1.2 million on television ads urging voters to repeal the gas tax and countering a larger television ad campaign by opponents.

“This is truly a David-versus-Goliath fight, showing how grassroots volunteers can overcome millions in special interest corporate cash,” DeMaio said.

He said the $30 million raised by opponents is not a surprise, “because the only chance they have to defeat the Prop. 6 Gas Tax Repeal is to lie to voters with scary, deceptive ads to con them into voting ‘no’ to keep the costly gas tax in place.”

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-gas-tax-repeal-campaign-cash-20180930-story.html

Gemini

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Four Democratic congressional candidates buck party leaders to oppose California's gas-tax increase

Democratic leaders are facing a mutiny by four of the party’s congressional candidates who are opposing a recent increase in the California gas tax that has proven unpopular with many voters.

The defections could bolster Proposition 6, a Republican-led initiative on the November ballot that would repeal a 2017 law that increased the state’s gas tax and vehicle fees to fix roads and improve mass transit. Six Republican congressional candidates helped fund the ballot measure in hopes of boosting conservative voter turnout and changing the outcome in some close races.

Now, the gas tax increase is also opposed by Democratic congressional candidates Katie Porter of Irvine, Josh Harder of Turlock, Jessica Morse of Pollock Pines and Ammar Campa-Najjar of east San Diego County, according to a survey of contenders by The Times.

"I support Proposition 6, which repeals the gas tax,” said Harder, a venture capitalist who is challenging Central Valley GOP Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock in a district that Hillary Clinton won two years ago.

“We all agree that we need to fix our roads and bridges, especially here in the valley, but it should be through a thoughtful, cost-effective national plan, not through another tax we can’t afford like a gas tax that hurts working families,” Harder said.

Porter, a UC Irvine law professor who is challenging Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Beach), took her stand last week in disputing an attack ad that claimed Porter had refused to take a position against the “Sacramento” gas tax.

“I oppose higher gas taxes, and I won’t be afraid to take on leaders of both political parties and do what’s right for Orange County taxpayers,” she said in a campaign ad of her own.

The initiative would repeal Senate Bill 1, which was approved by the Legislature and governor in April 2017. It raised the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon, boosted the diesel fuel tax by 20 cents per gallon and increased vehicle fees. The new charges are expected to raise $5.4 billion annually for road and transit projects.

The bill was pushed by Democratic leaders including Gov. Jerry Brown, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins.

Representatives for Brown declined to comment on the defections, referring calls to the campaign against Proposition 6.

“Shame on any politician who wants to play politics with public safety,” said Robbie Hunter, a campaign spokesman and president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. He warned “voters will hold those politicians accountable who gamble with our safety.”

Atkins declined to comment Friday on the Democrats opposing the gas-tax increase, but said she will work with a coalition that includes the California Chamber of Commerce to educate the public on the need for the revenue.

“Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our economy needs this investment,” she said.

The gas tax was shown to be a volatile topic when Republican leaders successfully recalled Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman from office in June for voting in favor of the gas-tax increase.

It could be seen by some candidates as a decisive issue, said Darry Sragow, a longtime Democratic strategist and publisher of California Target Book, which tracks political contests in the state.

“Pragmatically, candidates may be seeing opinion research that indicates the race is close, and opposition to the gas-tax repeal might cost them critically needed votes,” he said.

There may be another explanation, Sragow added. “Ideologically, they may have a heartfelt objection to the impact of the increase in the gas tax on people who survive from paycheck to paycheck and need to drive a car to make a living.”

Republican political consultant David Gilliard, a leader of the Proposition 6 campaign, predicted more Democrats would come out in favor of repealing the gas tax.

“If they are reading their polls, they will all be ‘yes’ on 6 before long,” Gilliard said.

Repealing the higher tax and fees was supported by 51% of the state’s registered voters surveyed in May, according to a statewide USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. The Times survey also found the repeal measure supported by 56% of voters in the Central Valley and 64% in Orange and San Diego counties and the Inland Empire.

A survey released this month by private firm Probolsky Research found a different level of support for repeal, showing that 35.8% of voters are in favor of Proposition 6, while 48% of voters oppose the measure when presented with the title they will read on their ballots. That title reads: “Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding. Requires Certain Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees be Approved by The Electorate."

Campa-Najjar has also taken a position against the gas tax as he competes against beleaguered GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine in a district that has voted Republican in previous elections.

Hunter is facing a federal indictment that alleges he and his wife used campaign funds for their personal benefit.

“Ammar opposes the gas tax in its current form,” said Nick Singer, a campaign consultant for the Democrat.

Morse is taking on Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) in a Northern California district that includes a large swath of the Sierra Nevada Mountains including Lake Tahoe and areas south.

She blamed the incumbent for what she said is a failure to pass significant federal legislation to fix California roads and bridges, and reduce traffic.

Morse opposes the gas tax and supports Proposition 6.

“I'm running for Congress because California's families work hard and should not shoulder a heavier tax burden, and this measure is just another form of double-taxation for residents of the 4th District,” she said in a statement released by her campaign.

The gas-tax increase is supported by Democratic congressional candidates including Mike Levin, an attorney from San Juan Capistrano, and Gil Cisneros, a retired Navy veteran and philanthropist from Yorba Linda.

Other Democratic candidates did not respond to requests for comment.

“Our roads and bridges are simply not safe,” said Levin, who is facing Republican state tax board member Diane Harkey in the November runoff. Harkey has contributed to the Proposition 6 campaign.

Levin noted voters approved a ballot measure in June to prevent gas-tax money from being used on nontransportation projects.

“With that guarantee in place, I will vote against repealing SB 1,” Levin said.

Cisneros is battling Republican Young Kim for the congressional seat being vacated by incumbent Rep. Ed Royce in a district that includes northern Orange County, southeastern Los Angeles County and southwestern San Bernardino County.

He indicated the tax issue was a tough call.

“I do not support repeal of the gas tax because our local businesses and workers need certainty and work is already underway on local projects like 46 lane miles of State Route 57,” Cisneros said in a statement. “While I didn’t support raising the gas tax because California families shouldn’t have to pay for the Trump administration's misplaced priorities and tax giveaways to big corporations, jobs are on the line and we must finish what we started.”

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-gas-tax-congress-20180827-story.html

Gemini

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Re: California ballot will include gas tax repeal in November
« Reply #43 on: June 28, 2018, 08:27:17 am »
Gov. Brown can largely blame himself if the state's gas tax increase is repealed in November

His clever campaign ploy eight years ago has come back to bite Gov. Jerry Brown as he packs to leave office while fighting to save an unpopular gas tax increase.

When Brown announced his candidacy for another hitch as governor in 2010, he solemnly promised voters: “No new taxes unless you the people vote for them.”

It was an attempt to undermine Republican candidate Meg Whitman’s characterization of Brown as a tax-and-spend liberal. It worked, although Brown was never one of those lefties anyway. He won election comfortably.

Once in office, Brown continued advocating for voter veto power over taxes.

“This is a matter that’s too big, too irreversible, to leave just to those whom you’ve elected,” the governor asserted on YouTube in a so-called report to the people.

“This is a matter of we the people taking charge and voting on the most fundamental matters that affect all of our lives.”

Brown was calling for a special election on taxes. He needed more revenue to balance the state budget. But Republican legislators wouldn’t go along. So the governor sponsored a ballot initiative that socked the wealthiest Californians with the highest state income tax in the nation.

Today, Republicans pushing an initiative to repeal last year’s gas tax hike certainly would agree with the governor’s contention that tax increases are “too big” for just the governor and Legislature to handle.

Brown’s promise was only for one term. He backed off after being reelected in 2014. But he planted a seed in voters’ minds that has sprouted into what many consider a right. It isn’t, but will be if the repeal measure passes — at least for gas taxes.

The initiative not only would wipe out the new fuel taxes and vehicle fees, it would require that any future such legislation be submitted to the voters for approval. The GOP-sponsored measure qualified for the November ballot on Monday.

Brown’s campaign promise was unfortunate because it surrendered powers given him by the state’s founders.

A California governor — just as a U.S. president — has the sole power to sign and veto bills. The Legislature can override a veto. And the voters can repeal a law if someone collects enough signatures to qualify a measure for the ballot. But there’s no constitutional provision that says a statute signed by a governor must also be OKd by the electorate.

Under the repeal measure, there would be such a requirement for gas taxes.

You’ve never seen a federal tax hike go to voters. That’s because the nation’s framers created a republic in which policy decisions are made by elected representatives, not directly by citizens. We’ve strayed far from that concept in California with special-interest-dominated initiatives. And we’ve paid for it, often with sloppily concocted laws.

Brown’s populist rhetoric offering voters a tax veto helped get him elected. But it also ultimately created a potent political tool for opponents of his gas tax hike.

And politics is what the repeal effort is mostly about. It’s not so much about killing a tax increase. It’s about saving Republican U.S. House members who are in danger of losing their seats to Democrats in November. The theory is that a hot ballot measure to lower gas taxes will lure Republicans into voting, and they’ll also support threatened GOP House members.

National Republican leaders have been bankrolling the repeal campaign in an effort to protect GOP control of the House. Democrats need to flip 23 seats nationally to recapture it.

At stake in California is $5 billion annually in tax revenue earmarked mostly for road repairs. Here’s how it’s divvied: 65% for roads and bridges, split 50-50 between the state and local governments; 20% for transit; a portion for truck access around ports; and some for bicycle and pedestrian lanes.

After the repeal qualified for the ballot, Brown tweeted: “This flawed and dangerous measure pushed by Trump’s Washington allies jeopardizes the safety of millions of Californians by stopping local communities from fixing their crumbling roads and bridges.”

Brown also has urged voters: “Now is the time. Don’t blow it guys. I mean, I’m going off to my ranch. You’re going to be driving on these damn roads. Fix them now or you may never get them fixed.”

“Never” is a stretch. But the tax increase took years and a lot of bruised political hide to pass. Former Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton was recalled after he voted for the tax hike. Democratic leaders should have protected Newman by allowing him to abstain, but didn’t. If the tax is repealed, it’s doubtful the Legislature will summon the courage to raise more highway repair money for a very long time.

Repeal strategists regurgitate the popular myth that Democrats have stolen highway funds in the past and spent the money on non-transportation projects. Wrong.

Anyway, voters in the primary election approved a constitutional amendment that requires all the new fuel and vehicle tax revenue to be used for transportation.

There already are roughly 5,000 projects underway, big and small, the state says. Making sure voters know about them will be the key to beating back the repeal.

But if the repeal succeeds and every future gas tax has to be approved by voters, Brown can largely blame himself for implanting that foolish notion.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-gas-tax-repeal-politics-20180628-story.html

Gemini

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Re: California ballot will include gas tax repeal in November
« Reply #42 on: June 25, 2018, 03:05:27 pm »
California ballot will include gas tax repeal in November

Californians will vote in November on a ballot proposition that would repeal a new gas tax and vehicle fees, saddling Gov. Jerry Brown with a final challenge to preserve a key part of his legacy before leaving office.

With polls showing most California voters want to kill the new tax, the initiative poses a real threat that the funding plan pushed by Brown and Democratic legislative leaders to fix the state’s roads and bridges won’t survive the Nov. 6 election. The measure earned a spot on the statewide ballot Monday, garnering more than the 585,407 signatures of registered voters required, according to a random sample count announced by state officials.

Brown on Monday blasted the initiative and gave a preview of his campaign strategy.

"This flawed and dangerous measure pushed by Trump’s Washington allies jeopardizes the safety of millions of Californians by stopping local communities from fixing their crumbling roads and bridges. Just say no,” Brown said in a statement.

Brown is up against a campaign financed by national Republican leaders including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, the California Republican Party and GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox. Together they spent $1.7 million to put the initiative on the ballot, and are expected to spend millions more to make sure voters repeal the tax and fees, a campaign they hope will turn out a conservative tide for congressional races.

Cox welcomed the news.

"This is a message to the millions of forgotten Californians ignored by the Sacramento political elite, help is on the way,” Cox said in a written statement. “Let this also be a message to every special interest in Sacramento, we’re coming for you. You can outspend the people, but you can’t outvote the people, because there are more of us than there are of you.”

Senate Bill 1, which Brown signed last year, will raise more than $5 billion annually from a higher fuel tax and a new vehicle registration fee for road repairs and improvement to mass transit systems across the state. Brown, who leaves office in January, recently conceded that “nobody likes the tax, but it’s doing stuff,” saying it is necessary to keep the state’s road system from falling apart.

“What he is fighting for is his legacy, and so I think he would have every reason in the world to put a lot of emphasis on keeping the gas tax in place,” said Darry Sragow, a longtime Democratic strategist and publisher of California Target Book, which tracks political contests in the state.

The governor, who last reported $14.8 million in his campaign account available to fight repeal, has already begun offering his defense of the higher tax at press conferences throughout the state where he has announced the start of projects that they have made possible.

In late May, he visited Torrance to highlight construction of a transit terminal. Brown called the repeal effort “crazy” and said the rejection of the tax would mean trouble for California.

“If you say no, what? We are just going to go back to congestion, call a halt to this project, stop the projects for the Olympics?” Brown said. “That is really dumb and I don’t believe Californians are going to do that. That’s why we want to vote ‘no’ on any attempt to repeal and throw back this tax.”

The ballot measure that qualified would not only repeal last year’s new levies, it also would amend the California Constitution to require voter approval for future gas tax increases.

Brown argues that a large backlog of road and bridge repairs require additional money. SB 1 raised the state gas tax by 12 cents per gallon and boosted the diesel fuel tax by 20 cents per gallon. The measure also created a new, annual vehicle fee ranging from $25 for cars valued at less than $5,000, to $175 for cars worth $60,000 or more.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appeared with Brown in Torrance, and he and leaders of other cities are expected to play prominently in the anti-repeal campaign, telling voters that potholed roads and crumbling bridges in their communities need the influx of dollars provided by the new tax and fees. A portion of the billions raised by the fees will go toward expansion of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s bus and rail systems.

“If you want to pay for more popped tires, realigned axels, you want to see our roads continue to deteriorate, go ahead and repeal SB 1,” Garcetti said. “But we all know like with our houses, if we don’t fix the leak we are going to be paying a lot more in the future.”

Opponents of the gas tax complained this week that the state and local governments have been abusing taxpayer funds by putting up signs along roads throughout the state touting the construction made possible by SB1, but state officials say such signs have been a common sight for decades.

City transit officials plan to demonstrate to voters that the money is being well spent on real road projects.

“I think in part our responsibility to the taxpayers is to shine a bright spotlight on the improvements that these dollars are making in communities every day already,” said Carolyn Coleman, executive director of the League of California Cities.

Repeal, she said, “would mean the loss of important and scarce resources to make the long overdue improvements in our streets and roads and bridges and easing traffic congestion.”

But the pro-repeal forces are likely to begin the campaign with favorable odds. Scrapping the higher tax and fees was supported by 51% of registered voters in the state, according to a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times statewide poll last month.

With billions of dollars at stake, both sides are planning big-budget campaigns. The gas tax is supported by the Coalition to Protect Local Transportation Improvements, which reported $5.1 million in campaign donations as of May 19.

Some of that went to support Proposition 69, which was approved by voters on the June 5 ballot, and requires gas-tax money to go to transportation projects.

Much of the money raised so far by the main campaign for the initiative has gone to signature gathering, with big contributions from the California Republican Party and GOP leaders.

Republicans see the gas tax as a defining issue for congressional and state legislative candidates in the November election, with hopes it will also draw more conservative voters to the polls.

“The Republicans want this as a way to get out the vote,” said Tony Quinn, a former Republican political consultant.

Sragow said Republicans will work to make the debate over repeal a fight with Brown, but he said backers of the tax need to build on a broad coalition of labor and business to show the benefits of the money to the lives of working Californians.

It is notable that Republicans and big business are on opposite sides of the measure even though they traditionally are allies on tax issues, Sragow said. That, coupled with the money business can raise, could help save the gas tax, he said.

A second group supporting repeal, Reform California, reported $1 million in its treasury as it launches a campaign. The group said it has momentum after voters recalled state Sen. Josh Newman from office on June 5 over his vote to raise the gas tax, said Carl DeMaio, chairman of Reform California.

“We are wasting no time in launching our efforts for the repeal phase of the campaign to ensure we are victorious in November,” said DeMaio, a conservative radio talk show host and former San Diego City Council member.

The group opposing repeal, Fix Our Roads, has a multi-faceted message, arguing that doing away with the increased gas tax and fees would jeopardize public safety by preventing the state from fixing roads in “poor” condition, and more than 1,600 bridges and overpasses that are structurally deficient and unsafe.

The campaign will warn that repeal would stop or threaten more than 5,000 transportation improvement projects already underway. Opponents of repeal also say it would make traffic congestion worse and cost motorists more in the long run by requiring car repairs from damage suffered on bad roads.

Sragow, who has known Brown for years, said he thinks the governor will come out swinging.

“He doesn’t shy away from a fight,” Sragow said. “Nobody can scare Jerry Brown. The fact that a bunch of Republicans from other parts of this country are looking at this place as a battleground for things that have nothing to do with California will incense Jerry Brown.”

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-gas-tax-repeal-november-ballot-20180625-story.html


Gemini

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Majority of California voters want to repeal gas tax increase, poll finds

As a new poll found a majority of California voters want to repeal increases to the state's gas tax and vehicle fees, Gov. Jerry Brown has begun campaigning to preserve them, arguing the sacrifice is needed to fix long-neglected roads and bridges and improve mass transit.

Repeal of the higher taxes and fees was supported by 51% of registered voters in the state, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times statewide poll.

The survey found 38% of registered voters supported keeping the higher taxes, 9% hadn't heard enough to say either way and 2% said they wouldn't vote on the measure.

The results bode well for a measure that Republican members of Congress hope to place on the November statewide ballot that could boost turnout of GOP voters by offering the chance to repeal the gas tax increase, said Bob Shrum, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.

"If it qualifies for the ballot it will be, I suspect, very hard to sustain it," Shrum said of the tax. "It's almost dead."

At issue is Senate Bill 1, approved by the Legislature and governor in April 2017. It raised the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon, boosted the diesel fuel tax by 20 cents per gallon and increased vehicle fees. The new charges will raise $5.4 billion annually for road and transit projects.

In launching a campaign to preserve the taxes, Brown has come out swinging, calling the proposed repeal initiative "devious and deceptive" in a speech Friday to Southern California transportation leaders.

"The test of America's strength is whether we defeat this stupid repeal measure, which is nothing more than a Republican stunt to get a few of their losers returned to Congress, and we're not going to let that happen," Brown told the transportation officials at Union Station in Los Angeles.

The California Transportation Commission has so far allocated $2.7 billion for transportation projects throughout California as a result of SB 1, he noted.

The governor's comments drew a sharp rebuke as "disgraceful name-calling" from Carl DeMaio, a Republican leader of the initiative drive who is a former member of the San Diego City Council.

The poll results are encouraging, he said.

"It just goes to show you that in order for Gov. Jerry Brown and his backers to prevail in keeping the tax in place they are going to have to pull out all stops, and the level of dishonesty is going to breathtaking," DeMaio said.

The governor and other supporters of the tax "might have a chance" to succeed, Shrum said, if they make the question about safe bridges, fixing the state's crumbling roads and boosting the economy.

That is the tactic that seems to be emerging.

Caltrans officials held a press conference Tuesday in Oxnard to announce $68.6 million in SB 1 funds to build an overpass for Rice Avenue over busy rail tracks.

The project will end delays as cars wait for trains to pass and make safer an intersection that has been identified as one of the most dangerous in the state, officials said.

Brown had planned to attend the Oxnard event, but his flight from Sacramento was delayed. The governor plans similar events throughout the state, aides said, and he made his case to reporters in a conference call.

"It's great to recognize this, one of many projects that SB 1 is going to finance," Brown said. "It's going to save lives. It's going to make commuting and traveling easier and safer."

That supporters of the tax are addressing voters outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco is also noteworthy. The poll found only 44% of voters in Los Angeles want to repeal the tax, but the number goes to 55% in the suburbs, 56% in the state's Central Valley and 64% in Orange and San Diego counties and the Inland Empire.

Shrum said supporters of the tax should be concerned about the level of opposition by voters, including the poll findings that half of Latino voters want to repeal the taxes. "That's not a promising number, given you have to use a Democratic base" to mount a campaign to keep the tax, he said.

"If Democrats are going to save this they are going to have to spend a lot of money," Shrum added.

Coverage of California politics »

Hoping to boost turnout of GOP voters, Republican leaders providing major funding of the repeal initiative include House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, who, because he is poised to be the next speaker, has a lot on the line when it comes to who controls Congress.

The campaign against the initiative is backed by a coalition of deep-pocketed big business that often align with Republicans to fight higher taxes, and also has support from labor, law enforcement and cities.

The "Fix Our Roads" coalition fighting repeal includes the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the Bay Area Council, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the League of California Cities, the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California and the California Assn. of Highway Patrolmen.

A political committee set up to fight any attempt to repeal the gas tax has raised more than $1 million so far.

The poll did not shake the confidence of anti-repeal coalition leader Michael Quigley, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs.

"This campaign will be about whether voters want to rip away thousands of local projects, whether they want unsafe, congested roads, and whether they want to let partisan politicians take us backward," Quigley said.

The governor's leading role could help to keep the gas tax on the books, but his ability to assist is limited, said Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist and consultant to the poll. "The governor's numbers aren't what they used to be."

The poll found that 48% of voters approved of the job Brown has done and 40% disapproved.

The online survey was conducted from April 18 to May 18 and included 691 registered voters. The overall margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-usc-poll-gas-tax-20180524-story.html


Gemini

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Re: Billions from gas tax and vehicle fees will go to transit projects
« Reply #40 on: April 26, 2018, 01:18:36 pm »
Any wonder why so little of the high taxes and fees you pay end up actually being used for...you know, what it was intended? More billions will be wasted in public transit when ridership in public transit in So Cal has been declining.  ::)

Billions from gas tax and vehicle fees will go to transit projects, California officials announce

A day before Republican activists file signatures for a ballot initiative to repeal an increase in the state gas tax and vehicle fees, California officials on Thursday announced that $2.4 billion of the money will be spent on dozens of transit projects, including work they say will prepare Southern California to host the 2028 Summer Olympics.

An additional $1.9 billion for the projects will come from funds collected by California's landmark climate change program, which requires polluters to buy carbon emission credits, the officials said.

The money will go to six Los Angeles Metro expansion projects, including light rail extensions to Torrance and Montclair, and additional rapid transit service along congested corridors, according to the California State Transportation Agency, which allocated the money.

Officials said money will also go toward making the Pacific Surfliner and Metrolink commuter lines faster and more reliable by improving tracks and signals at locations such as Los Angeles' Union Station.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, money will help complete the funding for a BART line to San Jose and the creation of new Samtrans express bus routes along the US-101 corridor.

"These zero emission bus and rail projects mean millions of tons less pollution in the air we breathe," said Gov. Jerry Brown in a statement.

Most of the projects, including those in the Los Angeles area, already have other funding from local transportation taxes.

The money is part of $5.4 billion expected to be raised annually for road and bridge repairs and mass transit improvements through increases in the gas tax and vehicle fees approved last year by the Legislature and Brown.

The rail and transit money announcement was made on the eve of plans by Republican activists to file more than 830,000 signatures in an effort to qualify a measure for the November ballot that would repeal the 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase, 20-cent diesel fuel excise tax increase and new annual vehicle fees.

Brown lobbied lawmakers hard for their votes on the tax measure, SB 1, citing a large backlog of repairs and improvements.

But Republican critics and lawmakers who are pushing the ballot initiative said the state could pay for the work by tapping budget surpluses and abandoning the high-speed rail project being pushed by the governor.

State officials hope to show voters evidence of progress from the higher taxes, and predict the initiative will be rejected.

"The real-life ways SB 1 benefits drivers and commuters will make their own compelling case, especially where long-needed projects are already underway," said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount). "Local Republican leaders around the state were an important part of the SB 1 coalition, so I'm not sure how the more radical members of the party will be reconciling that in their attacks."

The transit projects funded Thursday also help the state meet climate and air quality goals, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 32 million tons, according to Brian Annis, the state agency secretary.

The funding includes $36 million of the $102 million cost to the city of Los Angeles for 112 zero-emission buses to replace existing propane-powered vehicles and expand the DASH bus fleet so it will run more often and in more areas.

Los Angeles' successful bid to host the 2028 Summer Olympics had already touched off a series of projects to improve mass transit in the area.

More than $1 billion in state grants will be matched with local tax revenue to fund the $5.7-billion plan to extend the Gold Line to Montclair, Green Line to Torrance, and the Orange/Red Line between North Hollywood and Pasadena, among other rail projects.

Another $874 million will go toward the $2-billion project to provide run-through tracks at Union Station as well as other improvements. The money will improve the frequency and performance of Metrolink services to Moorpark, Santa Clarita, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange County.

Another project will increase Pacific Surfliner service to Santa Barbara by five to six round trips.

Meanwhile, the staff of the California Transportation Commission on Wednesday released recommendations for competitive grants that would use the gas tax funds for local projects that include relieving traffic in congested freeway corridors. The commission will finalize those grants in May.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-gas-tax-money-20180426-story.html

Gemini

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Since when do the thieves in Sacramento respect the law on the books prohibiting restricted funds from being used for other programs?

Proposition 69 would put California's transportation funds in a lockbox. Vote yes

Last year, legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to increase taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, and to impose new and bigger fees on vehicles, to help build and maintain the state's transportation infrastructure. To win support from tax-wary Republicans, proponents of the legislation (Senate Bill 1) promised that the new money would be used only for transportation.

Proposition 69 would fulfill that promise. Voters should hold lawmakers to their word and pass it.

The measure would require that the new revenue go into special accounts that could be spent exclusively on transportation. This isn't a new concept. Californians have passed constitutional amendments to guarantee that certain fuel taxes and vehicle license fees are reserved for transportation projects. Proposition 69 similarly amends the state Constitution to ensure that revenue generated from the diesel sales tax increase and the new transportation improvement fee in SB 1 are dedicated to transportation spending.
 
We've been skeptical of ballot-box budgeting and past efforts to earmark state spending because they can distort state priorities and make it harder to pay the state's bills when there is a recession. But we're OK with Proposition 69 for a couple of reasons.

First, Americans have long relied on fuel taxes and vehicle charges as "user fees" to maintain transportation infrastructure. The more dollars that get diverted to other needs, the greater the backlog of road and bridge repairs. And second, efforts to raise these taxes and fees to keep pace with inflation were stymied politically for years, exacerbating the state's infrastructure problems. The promise to put new fuel tax and vehicle fee revenue in a lockbox for transportation was integral to the compromise that allowed SB 1 to reach the two-thirds majority required for tax increases.

The law increased the gasoline tax by 12 cents a gallon, the diesel excise tax by 20 cents a gallon and the diesel sales tax to 5.75% from 1.75%. It also raised annual vehicle registration fees by up to $175, depending on the vehicle's value. And it created a $100 annual fee, starting in 2020, for zero-emission vehicles, which don't pay gas taxes.

Opponents of Proposition 69 are engaging in a cynical campaign to defeat the measure so they can argue in November — when they hope to have a referendum on the ballot to repeal the fuel tax increases — that lawmakers can't be trusted to spend the money on transportation. That's foolishness. California leaders have wisely decided to invest again in building and maintaining the state's transportation infrastructure. Proposition 69 will help ensure the work gets done.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/endorsements/la-ed-prop69-20180418-story.html

Gemini

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Re: Gas taxes have been siphoned away from road repairs for years
« Reply #38 on: April 25, 2017, 07:49:04 pm »
Gas taxes have been siphoned away from road repairs for years: Mike Morrell

With new permanent gas and car taxes enacted, legislative Democrats have gotten their wish. Drivers will be paying for the largest gas tax increase in state history to the tune of $52 billion over the next decade — their hard-earned money going not only to roads and highways, but also to shore up a government that perpetually and disingenuously claims it is short on cash.

Many have asked an obvious question: If California already charges among the nation’s highest gas taxes and the roads are still deteriorating, where has all the money gone? The answer lies in a scheme that has played out for almost two decades.

In 2002, voters passed Proposition 42 confining the sales tax on gasoline to transportation purposes only. Shortly after, legislators found a way to siphon off the money to the state budget. Voters responded in 2006 with Proposition 1A, limiting the Legislature’s ability to suspend Proposition 42. Then the Democrat-controlled Legislature used accounting gimmicks to pay off bonds instead of build up our highways. Citizens responded again in 2010 with Proposition 22, prohibiting gasoline excise tax funds from being used to pay for debt. Now the Legislature diverts $1 billion a year from trucking weight fees to the state budget’s general fund.

We all agree that we need well-maintained roads. They are critical to the health of our economy, to keep goods and services moving. It is one of the core responsibilities of government to enable the flow of commerce.

Yet year after year, money for our roads has been hijacked against the clear will of voters. At the same time, the state general fund has increased spending by $36 billion, not one dollar of which has gone to roads and highways. Instead, the Democrat-controlled government has used the money to prop up spending on expanded social programs for drug felons and renovated state office buildings in Sacramento. The governor also continues to advocate spending $67 billion on an ill-conceived high-speed rail network.

In the end, those most hurt by tax increases on driving will be the working poor, those on fixed incomes, and the middle class. It will especially hit those who have few options but to drive long distances every day just to get to work or take their kids to school. This comes on top of the estimated $2,500 in annual costs already pushed onto families by the state’s environmental laws.

Democrat leaders have promised that the annual $5.2 billion in taxes will be used to pay for roads and highways. However, it is another instance in which the big print giveth, while the little print taketh away.

Despite claims otherwise, $80 million will be spent on parks. Another $100 million will be used to fund the Active Transportation Program, likely for bike paths and walkways — not roads. To put these figures in perspective, only $110 million will be used on new infrastructure. These are just some of the itemized expenditures.

Polls have shown that Californians consistently dislike the idea of higher gas taxes. A UC Berkeley study found the opposition to be almost 63 percent.

Californians know they pay enough for the services and programs they expect. What they want is the state to better prioritize its spending, to get its finances in order just like each of us has to do every time we balance our checkbooks.

Instead, under one-party rule in California, taxpayers are fleeced again, finding themselves having to pay more for government that delivers less.

http://www.sbsun.com/opinion/20170425/gas-taxes-have-been-siphoned-away-from-road-repairs-for-years-mike-morrell

Gemini

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Re: California Legislature passes Gov. Brown’s massive road repair bill
« Reply #37 on: April 19, 2017, 09:11:05 pm »
We have a much better chance of winning El Gordo than having the tax increases rescinded.  :-X

RookieMtnGoat

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Re: California Legislature passes Gov. Brown’s massive road repair bill
« Reply #36 on: April 19, 2017, 08:51:13 pm »
You can sign the petition against the new gas and car tax here:

Www.stopthecartax.org

Sponsored by San Diego talk show host Carl DeMaio (which explains why you will get his web page from the link).

Gemini

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Re: California Legislature passes Gov. Brown’s massive road repair bill
« Reply #35 on: April 19, 2017, 08:45:16 pm »
Gov. Jerry Brown calls accusations of illegal vote trading on transportation deal 'preposterous'

Gov. Jerry Brown dismissed criticism Wednesday that negotiations on this month's $52-billion transportation plan crossed the line into the illegal trading of votes by lawmakers, instead calling it a part of the process of finding political consensus.

"That is preposterous," Brown said of the accusations leveled by some Republicans in the Legislature. "When we fashion a bill in the democratic system, we don't do it by an autocratic dictator behind a closed door. You talk to people."

The last few legislators to sign on to the proposal — including just one Republican — insisted on a series of side deals, the bulk of which earmark almost $1 billion in spending for transportation-related efforts in their communities.

On Tuesday, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) asked state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to investigate those arrangements.

"This appears to be a standard quid pro quo exchange, which has been made clear by these legislators' public statements about the evolution of their decision and their rationale for voting for Senate Bill 1," she wrote in a letter to Becerra.

California's state Constitution declares it a felony to participate in legislative action influenced by "bribery, promise of reward, intimidation or other dishonest means."

http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-gov-jerry-brown-calls-accusations-of-1492626515-htmlstory.html

TErickson

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Re: California Legislature passes Gov. Brown’s massive road repair bill
« Reply #34 on: April 09, 2017, 04:06:52 pm »
I thought this was an interesting article fact checking different statements on what has happened with our previous road money. From the Sacramento Bee:

Who’s telling the truth about California’s gas tax money?

With votes scheduled for Thursday, Republicans have ramped up their criticism of a $5.2 billion road-funding agreement between Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders.

The package’s billions of dollars in higher taxes and fees, goes a main line of attack, wouldn’t be necessary if lawmakers in the past hadn’t taken transportation money to help pay for unrelated programs.

“We can fix our roads and bridges by simply ensuring that the billions of dollars that drivers are already paying in transportation fees and taxes are actually used for transportation purposes, rather than being swept into the state’s general fund,” read a joint statement from Assembly and state Senate Republicans after the plan’s release. Online ads have made similar claims.

Analysis

The allegation is misleading. It’s true that California governors and lawmakers – of both parties – borrowed heavily from transportation-related accounts after the dot-com bust and during the recession. But the amount of borrowing never amounted to the $5.2 billion a year this package would produce. And most of the money has been paid back. The rest would be paid back in three years if the package is approved.

Republicans also say the state could produce that kind of money if the sales tax on car sales went strictly to transportation. But that money has never been earmarked for road projects in California. Under that logic, the sales tax on shoe sales would pay for sidewalks.

Still, even as state revenue has soared, the Brown administration and Democratic lawmakers continue to employ a recession-era budget maneuver that taps transportation dollars to pay off voter-approved transportation bonds. The general fund – which funds schools, social services and other functions of state government – typically also makes debt payments on school, water and other types of borrowing. By using money earmarked for transportation to pay for transportation bonds, the general fund is saving about $1 billion a year that can be used for other things.

Senate Bill 1 emerged last Thursday, the product of months of negotiations between Brown and legislative Democrats. Its provisions would increase gas and diesel excise taxes, create a fee linked to vehicle value, and impose a new fee on electric vehicles.

The measure also would repay, over three years, $706 million in transportation loans dating back to the 2002-03 budget year. Officials say that would close the books on some 15 years of borrowing from transportation accounts to prevent cuts to other programs.

State revenue soared in the late 1990s and early 2000s, prompting lawmakers to create the multibillion dollar Traffic Congestion Relief Program. Revenue, though, soon began to sag, and lawmakers borrowed more than $1 billion from the fund for the 2002-03 budget.

The tab continued to grow over subsequent budgets: Lawmakers suspended a rule requiring that the sales tax on gas go to transportation. When gas prices were high, they swept up some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in “spillover” revenue that otherwise would have gone to public transit.

Lawmakers got creative to try to pay the money back. In the mid-2000’s, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers approved tribal casino-expansions deals, with some of the tribes’ revenue-sharing payments to the state directed to pay off the road debt.

After the recession hit, lawmakers approved a series of complex fuel tax swaps, with the goal of providing relief for the general fund. In 2011, they overwhelmingly approved Assembly Bill 105, which directed truck weight fee revenue to pay debt service on Proposition 1B, the $19.9 billion transportation bond passed in November 2006.

In the current fiscal year, the budget directs $1 billion in weight fees revenue to help pay for $1.5 billion in Proposition 1B debt service. That would continue under the latest legislation.



PoliGRAPH is The Bee’s political fact checker, rating campaign advertisements and candidate claims as True, Iffy or False.

Jim Miller: 916-326-5521, @jimmiller2

Lucky

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Re: California Legislature passes Gov. Brown’s massive road repair bill
« Reply #33 on: April 07, 2017, 09:24:52 pm »
 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8) 8)

Gemini

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Re: California Legislature passes Gov. Brown’s massive road repair bill
« Reply #32 on: April 07, 2017, 08:39:38 pm »
We will be paying $755 more per year. 

Thieving bastards! >:(

CatsMeow

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Re: California Legislature passes Gov. Brown’s massive road repair bill
« Reply #31 on: April 07, 2017, 07:32:42 pm »
Fresno Bee has a caclculator to help you estimate how much the new taxes will cost you:

http://www.fresnobee.com/news/politics-government/article143237054.html

I figure about an extra $31 per month for my commute to/from Fontana. My husband drives a diesel truck (retired) but I figure about $25 a month. $600 a year.

Gemini

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Re: California Legislature passes Gov. Brown’s massive road repair bill
« Reply #30 on: April 07, 2017, 05:34:53 pm »
California Legislature passes Gov. Brown’s massive road repair bill

Following behind-the-scenes maneuvering and a public relations blitz by Democratic leaders, the California state legislature on Thursday evening, April 6, approved a $52 billion transportation funding package that raises the gas tax and imposes new vehicle fees to fix the state’s crumbling roads.

SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, passed the senate by a 27-11 vote, barely clearing the two-thirds hurdle needed to pass tax increases. After 10:30 p.m. the Assembly OK’d the bill on a 54-26 vote.

Going into the day, it wasn’t clear whether Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature’s Democratic leadership had enough support despite a sustained lobbying effort leading up to Thursday’s self-imposed deadline for a vote.

Sponsored by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, SB 1 will raise $52.4 billion over 10 years for transportation by raising California’s gas excise tax 12 cents to 30 cents a gallon, with annual adjustments for inflation. Also, the diesel excise tax will go up 20 cents to 36 cents a gallon and the diesel sales tax will rise from 1.75 percent to 5.75 percent.

Money also will come from a new fee on vehicles – those worth $5,000 or less will pay $25 a year while owners of vehicles worth $60,000 or more will pay $175 annually – and a $100 annual fee on zero-emission vehicles.

A constitutional amendment will require money raised through SB 1 to be spent solely on transportation.

Critics include GOP lawmakers and taxpayer advocates, who said new taxes and fees aren’t necessary to fix the roads and will add to the cost of driving in a state that pays among the highest gas prices in the nation. They added the state has squandered transportation funds and spent that money elsewhere.

The bill hurts the very people Democrats claim to champion, said Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula. “I have a lot of folks at home and throughout this state that have to choose between gasoline and food,” he told his colleagues.

Environmentalists objected to a provision that will have loosened clean-air requirements for trucks. The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which is tasked with reducing air pollution, said that provision would “severely impact (the district’s) ability to implement its recently-adopted air quality management plan for ozone and fine particulates.”

http://www.sbsun.com/government-and-politics/20170406/california-legislature-passes-gov-browns-massive-road-repair-bill

Gemini

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Re: Gov. Brown wants $5.2 billion a year in new taxes and fees to fix roads
« Reply #29 on: March 29, 2017, 06:33:05 pm »
California isn't waiting on Trump — Gov. Brown wants $5.2 billion a year in new taxes and fees to fix roads

Acknowledging the transportation system has been neglected, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders on Wednesday announced a proposal to raise gas taxes and vehicle fees to generate more than $5 billion annually for repairing California’s crumbling system of streets, highways and bridges, as well as to increase mass transit.

It remains uncertain whether Brown will be able to muster the two-thirds vote in both houses of the Legislature needed to approve the new revenue sources, which include a 12-cent-per-gallon increase in current gas excise taxes on Nov. 1. Future increases would be made by a new tax calculating methodology and annual inflation adjustments. Those changes begin in 2019 and are fully implemented in 2020.

The package also includes a new, annual vehicle fee that would average about $51 based on the value of the car.

But, Assembly and Senate Republicans released a joint statement opposing the plan. Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley said the state should use existing funds to pay for the work.

“Californians deserve better,” he told reporters. “State government has mismanaged our transportation system for decades and the only response to that is that the Democrats, the ruling party here in California, want to raise taxes.”

Brown and legislative leaders have set a deadline of April 6, the day before the Legislature leaves on its spring break, to have the new package voted on by lawmakers.

Although the taxes and fees would be raised in perpetuity, the new revenue would be phased in, with $2.8 billion in new transportation revenues being collected through the early summer of 2018.

“These people need to get to work,” Moorlach said. “So we’re going to put the fixing of our roads on the backs of the poor. They are going to decide do they buy gas or do they buy food. I see it as an onerous and unfair proposal.”

The sales tax on diesel would increase four percentage points from the current 5.75% to 9.75%. Also, the diesel excise tax would go up 20 cents, from 16 cents per gallon to 36 cents per gallon.

The plan also includes a $100 annual fee on electric cars that don’t pay gas taxes.

The tax and fee increases are unnecessary, said David Wolfe, legislative director for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.

He noted the state general fund has risen by $36 billion during the last six years and suggested some of that money should be spent on fixing the transportation system.

“The answer to solve this problem is not with new taxes that voters don’t want,” Wolfe said. “In order to restore trust with the voters, some effort should be spent on diverting other general fund monies to transportation that should have gone and historically have gone to transportation. The question is one of priorities.”

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-transportation-deal-taxes-fees-20170329-story.html

Lucky

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Re: State needs to maintain or replace its deficient, obsolete bridges
« Reply #28 on: February 20, 2017, 08:07:24 pm »
 :P   

Lucky

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Re: State needs to maintain or replace its deficient, obsolete bridges
« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2017, 07:30:36 pm »
Sorry man but spending 20  billion a year for illegals and  Your Governors anti Trump crap well **** you! When the sanctuary city money gets cut off well you are broke@! :P

Gemini

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Re: State needs to maintain or replace its deficient, obsolete bridges
« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2017, 07:23:24 pm »
State needs to maintain or replace its deficient, obsolete bridges

Many of California’s 25,431 bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, reports the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

Using data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2016 National Bridge Inventory, the group found that 5 percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient, while 18 percent are functionally obsolete.

Of the 1,388 structurally deficient bridges, most of those for which one or more key component, like the deck or superstructure, are considered in “poor” or worse condition are located in urban areas. Combined, these bridges handle over 21 million daily crossings.

Nearly one in four of these structurally deficient bridges can be found in the four-county region of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

In Los Angeles County, 207, or 6 percent, of 3,546 bridges are deemed structurally deficient. In Orange County, it’s 30, or 3 percent, of the 1,158 bridges. Riverside County fares the best, with only 14 of the county’s 1,091 bridges structurally deficient. San Bernardino County faces a similar situation as Los Angeles County, with 78, or 6 percent, of the county’s 1,406 bridges deficient.

While ratings of structural deficiency don’t necessarily mean a bridge is at immediate risk of collapse or doing harm to the public, it does mean there are vulnerabilities which are known to state officials.

At some point, effort and resources must be put into doing something about our deteriorating infrastructure. The longer we delay, the more problems we will have to deal with, probably at a much higher cost.

It is a shame that California has come to a point where it knows it faces tens of billions of maintenance needs, but has found the time and money to pursue dubious projects like High Speed Rail. The endless pursuit of fruitless pipe dreams and money pits to the detriment of transportation infrastructure that people use on a daily basis is nothing short of a slap in the face to the taxpayers of California.

http://www.sbsun.com/opinion/20170220/state-needs-to-maintain-or-replace-its-deficient-obsolete-bridges

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Re: California's roads are in dire shape, says former Caltrans director
« Reply #25 on: February 12, 2017, 10:22:09 am »
"That said, not every job is within the system, and many of of the stops don't have arteries to outlaying locations."

that's a definite drawback. In places like New York and San Fran where public transportation has been embraced more fully, there is more accommodation and a more extensive system. Here, not so much because it would force a choice between using funds on roadways or more on rail.

As far as diverting funds, I don't see that ever stopping. Remember when they first sold us the lotto based on the fact that it would fully fund schools and no one else could touch the $$ and no general fund money could be taken from the school budgets instead and life would be grand? And we FELL FOR IT??

And just for personal FYI in case of emergency purposes, I found I could indeed get to my doctor in Fontana - MARTA from the Park & Ride in Crestline to the Metrolink station in San B, San B line to Fontana, and a 15 minute bus ride up Sierra (and a not impossible walk to my doctor's office itself which is near Costco). But all while dragging my oxygen tank behind me. The only problem is that OTM service on MARTA is very limited and driving to the San B Metrolink station would make more sense. But by then I'm halfway there anyway. So it's doable, just impractical - ah, if only I were younger and healthier.

CatsMeow

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Re: California's roads are in dire shape, says former Caltrans director
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2017, 09:36:51 am »
A good start would be to stop stealing the billions earmarked for transportation projects that are being siphoned into the General Fund.

Yep.

CatsMeow

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Re: California's roads are in dire shape, says former Caltrans director
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2017, 09:35:29 am »
Having spent a considerable amount of my professional life driving around So Cal, I can attest how inadequate our roads are in terms of quality and quantity. We waste billions of dollars every year in lost productivity sitting in local freeways going nowhere. If that isn't bad enough, gridlock causes a tremendous amount of unnecessary pollution. As a recreational traveler, I see the same problem in other metropolitan areas in the state. We need to remember passenger traffic only contributes so much to gridlock. Anyone commuting back and forth on the 10, 60 and 215 will tell you the amount of truck traffic on those routes will some times surpass automobile traffic. California keeps growing and no matter how many people use public transportation we still need to spend a lot of money in road construction and maintenance. Sadly, it seems the state is about 15 to 20 years behind in alleviating traffic congestion is certain spots. By the time the additional lanes are added in gridlocked areas there is little to no relief. We are back to square one.   

I seem to recall that one truck is equal to 10 cars, when calculating space on the road. And add the 210 to that list.

Remember the 1984 Olympics? All the truckers agreed to stay off the roads during daylight hours, and the freeways flowed. How about some kind of incentive to move trucking to off hours, both for the truckers and the companies shipping/receiving the goods?

We can't continue to wait 20 years to get the systems we need. Moonbeam defunded the 210 freeway from Redlands to Pasadena during his first term, and when it did get built, costs were 10 times or more higher. The three lanes from the 15 east are already insufficient. I once asked why they didn't do four lanes all the way and was told that it would have cost an addition $1 million per mile just to add that fourth lane. Seems preposterous, doesn't it? Especially since, but the time they have to expand, the cost will again grow 10 times or more higher.

Gemini

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Re: California's roads are in dire shape, says former Caltrans director
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2017, 09:11:35 am »
Brown et all want to raise taxes, the Repubs have an alternate plan - they can't meet in the middle?

A good start would be to stop stealing the billions earmarked for transportation projects that are being siphoned into the General Fund.

CatsMeow

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Re: California's roads are in dire shape, says former Caltrans director
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2017, 08:57:11 am »
I don't think he is advocating new roads as much is he is calling attention to the repairs that are needed. And not just roads, but bridges that are crumbling into dangerous disrepair. Thousands of miles don't need just pothole fills, they need repaving. The same applies to many of the roads here on the mountain. And many of the more populated areas do need more miles of roads, as populations grow. Don't think we need more up here, but do need some serious repairs.

While Metrolink is great, and I use it if I have to go downtown within walking distance of Union Station. I don't go often enough to know all the ins and outs of the subway and bus system. If I traveled in everyday, I would use it. It can be just as expensive as driving a car, but overall it's more cost efficient, when you factor in cost be mile of driving a car. But we're so spread out, that most won't do without a car altogether. That said, not every job is within the system, and many of of the stops don't have arteries to outlaying locations. And I certainly can't see myself hauling all that I do every time I go to Mom's on the train, that would require at least one bus ride and a couple mile walk.

Brown et all want to raise taxes, the Repubs have an alternate plan - they can't meet in the middle?

I'm participating in the trial of "pay by the mile" and based on my trial "invoices" I think this is a good alternative to distributing costs to users. Either that, or, as electric car use grows, add a tax on to everyone's electric bill. Yeah, that will go over well.

Gemini

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Re: California's roads are in dire shape, says former Caltrans director
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2017, 08:26:44 am »
Having spent a considerable amount of my professional life driving around So Cal, I can attest how inadequate our roads are in terms of quality and quantity. We waste billions of dollars every year in lost productivity sitting in local freeways going nowhere. If that isn't bad enough, gridlock causes a tremendous amount of unnecessary pollution. As a recreational traveler, I see the same problem in other metropolitan areas in the state. We need to remember passenger traffic only contributes so much to gridlock. Anyone commuting back and forth on the 10, 60 and 215 will tell you the amount of truck traffic on those routes will some times surpass automobile traffic. California keeps growing and no matter how many people use public transportation we still need to spend a lot of money in road construction and maintenance. Sadly, it seems the state is about 15 to 20 years behind in alleviating traffic congestion is certain spots. By the time the additional lanes are added in gridlocked areas there is little to no relief. We are back to square one.     

xoxo

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Re: California's roads are in dire shape, says former Caltrans director
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2017, 07:47:24 am »
That being said, I think Caltrans and the County Yards do a fantastic job keeping our uniquely climate-abused mountain roads in at least decent condition.

And I'll throw this in about "gridlock" - we generally only experience it up here (or getting up here) during mostly predictable times (snowstorms where, living in a recreational area, a lot of people want to come up and play. Sort of the lifeblood of resort areas and I'm not sure spending $$ to do what - widen the 18 or the 330 to 6 lanes? Build another new highway from scratch? - would be efficient, possible, or wise).

The silly, revolutionary, but "free" alternative to "we need to spend billions on more roads" is for Californians to get over their love affair with private vehicles as the only acceptable form of transportation and just consider using public transportation when possible.

And it doesn't even require a "bullet train to nowhere". During my four years mostly without a car, I've used MARTA (awesome) and Metrolink. I only moved up here over a decade ago because I have a steady work-at-home job but for Christmases in OC with the family I found Metrolink cheaper, less stressful, and faster than renting a car and making the drive (the limited number of destination stations in OC was a bit inconvenient but my kids were always willing to make the 4-mile trip to pick me up at the train station). Zipping past gridlocked freeways reading a book was quite pleasant.

If I had to commute, I'd drive to the San Bernardino Metrolink station and try to find a job situated near a destination station. You cannot drive to Ventura County or San Diego ($10 round trip on weekends) for the money, no stress and no gridlock.  Yet the trains I've been on, except Christmas Eve day, were mostly empty.

Just throwing this out there as an alternative to insisting that the State is responsible for ensuring us unlimited access to private vehicles every time we want to leave the house.

However, and I may be misremembering somewhat from the Book of RonCPP, the 210 extension and the 215 improvements are AWESOME and the work paid for by Obama's early "shovel-ready projects" plan.

(And as a homage to those who helped me out so graciously when I need/needed a car trip to someplace inaccessible by public transportation, when I am "with vehicle" I do not fail to offer to carpool/drive or offer a ride to any non-scary pedestrians along the way - usually struggling elderly or obviously disabled people. My kids have forbidden me to extend that to "anyone who looks like they're going to bash you over the head and leave you in a ditch").