Early next week, Californians will enjoy two major events. On Tuesday, they will participate in handing out candy to the children in their neighborhoods for Halloween. The next day, Sacramento will provide its own version of “trick or treat” by increasing the gas tax. It should be a scary week.
Sacramento is to blame for neglecting the roads in California. Instead of addressing the symptoms, like bad management, budgeting and hiring, the majority party focused its attention on raising taxes (again!).
I have tried to research California’s Department of Transportation since I was elected on March 17, 2015. The metrics suck. And my attempts to fix them have been voted down by the Democrats (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Caltrans Boondoggles — June 28, 2017).
A gas tax increase presents a real problem to a good number of Californians. Those who are wealthy and living near the coast won’t even notice. But, the following sampling of people will:
* The 20 percent-plus of the population that are living at or below the poverty level (the highest percentage for any state in the nation–after four decades of Democrat control of the Legislature).
* Those who have lengthy commutes into Orange County because they found affordable housing in the Inland Empire. Add to this those that commute great distances to get to their jobs in Silicon Valley. (And Sacramento wonders why its roads are in disrepair.)
* Those who are spending nearly half of their disposable income on housing, thanks to increasing rents and home prices.
Expect plenty of editorials on the November 1st gas tax increase over the next few days. The Napa Valley Register provides one below.
Fill up your cars this week
As a reminder please make sure that you fill up all your gas tanks this week, before the Democrats’ new gas tax takes effect on Nov. 1.
To be clear, this 12-cent incremental tax in on top of the 18 cents that we already pay for gasoline and is paired with a 20-cent incremental increase on diesel fuel and a $25 to $175 increase on your vehicle registration. It also is set to add a $100 annual fee for zero-emission vehicles beginning in 2020.
Now, while I believe that the streets in Napa and California in general are in desperate need of attention, I have major concerns about this new regressive tax that has been levied upon the taxpayers by Governor Brown and the Democrats that control Sacramento.
Let us consider, the 2017 budget for Caltrans is over $10.9 billion. This is where the 18 cents in fuel tax you already pay is going. This budget is 4.7 times the average amount spent per mile of road in other states. (For example, for every $1 Texas spends on its highways, California spends $5.80, and the roads in Texas are great.) Not to mention the county and city budgets (taxes) that you are also already paying to service the local roads. (Don’t forget Measure T also.) California drivers have been paying some of the highest gas taxes in the country, and yet we still have the fourth worst roads.
Where is all this money going? It is obviously not being spent on the roads. If other states can manage their roads for 25 percent of the money that we are spending we have a major problem. Is the money being mismanaged in Sacramento or is it simply being spent on other things than our roads? In either case, I am not an advocate of giving them more money to waste, and I doubt you are.
In 2016, the California state auditor criticized the Department of Transportation’s approach to highway maintenance, saying Caltrans has “weak cost controls” that “create opportunities for fraud, waste and abuse.” California state Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) said in a press release: “This audit reinforces the fact that our bad roads are not a result of a lack of funding. They’re a result of a lack of competence at Caltrans.” He continued: “We don’t need to raise gas taxes to fix our roads. We need to stop letting Caltrans waste the road money it already has and then lie about how that money is being used.”
Taxes like this impact not only those of us who drive, but also impact the cost of all purchased goods because of the 20-cent diesel tax. Please don’t think that this new tax is not going to show up in the cost of everything you purchase.
When so many of our citizens find the cost of living too high already and our business are moving so many jobs out of state, the state and CalTrans need to restructure their operations, not increase taxes.
If you find this disregard for your money as egregious as I do and don’t like being called a “freeloader” by Gov. Brown, please don’t resign yourself to accept this as just another insult from Sacramento. We can stop this madness by starting with the repeal of the gas and car tax hikes. You can join the grass-roots movement at nocagastax.com and help us collect the more than 584,000 signatures to force this issue on the ballot in November 2018.
Derek Anderson, Chairman
Napa County Republican Central Committee
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