MOORLACH UPDATE — Rick Reiff Rocks — October 18, 2018

Rick Reiff informed me that “it’s a wrap” for his Inside OC PBS show (see https://www.pbssocal.org/programs/inside-oc/). He’s done a recap of the last three years with selected clips. So Rick’s e-mail is the first piece below.

When Newport Beach City Manager David Kiff announced that he was retiring, I did a little archiving (see MOORLACH UPDATE — David Kiff — July 13, 2018 july 13, 2018 john moorlach).

I decided to do the same for Rick Reiff. He has been in my life since immediately after the bankruptcy! And all the while he has been professional, poised, balanced, humorous and tasteful. He is a first class journalist, columnist, reporter and television host. Thanks for being an OC icon, Rick. I wish you all the best. Here are most, but not close to all, of the memories we’ve shared. (If you are in a line at the DMV, you may want to click on the links — the mentions are usually brief and concise — they are in date order so start from the bottom or top.)

5/14/18
MOORLACH UPDATE — May Revision — May 14, 2018 may 14, 2018 john moorlach

5/7/18
MOORLACH UPDATE — Inside OC, Part 2 — May 7, 2018 may 7, 2018 john moorlach

4/24/18
MOORLACH UPDATE — The Joys of Presenting Bills — April 24, 2018 april 24, 2018 john moorlach

10/21/17
MOORLACH UPDATE — Bonuses and Bogusness — October 21, 2017 october 21, 2017 john moorlach

10/5/17
MOORLACH UPDATE — Rising Tide — October 5, 2017 october 5, 2017 john moorlach

9/27/17
MOORLACH UPDATE — What Pension Crisis? — September 27, 2017 september 27, 2017 john moorlach

5/14/16
MOORLACH UPDATE — Budget Hearings — May 14, 2016 may 14, 2016 john moorlach

12/18/15
MOORLACH UPDATE — Streetcar Skepticism — December 18, 2015 december 18, 2015 john moorlach

10/29/15
MOORLACH UPDATE — Bay Bridge Bloat — October 29, 2015 october 29, 2015 john moorlach

3/29/13
MOORLACH UPDATE — Libraries — March 29, 2013 march 29, 2013 john moorlach

2/8/12

MOORLACH UPDATE — John Williams — February 8, 2012 february 8, 2012 john moorlach

12/19/11
MOORLACH UPDATE — Merry Christmas — December 19, 2011 december 19, 2011 john moorlach

11/22/11

MOORLACH UPDATE — Laura’s Law – Plus — November 22, 2011 november 22, 2011 john moorlach

10/12/11

MOORLACH UPDATE — OCBJ — October 12, 2011 october 12, 2011 john moorlach

8/8/11

MOORLACH UPDATE — Jefferson County — August 8, 2011 august 8, 2011 john moorlach

5/31/11
MOORLACH UPDATE — Southwest — May 31, 2011 may 31, 2011 john moorlach

5/26/11

MOORLACH UPDATE — Memorial Day — May 26, 2011 may 26, 2011 john moorlach

3/28/11

MOORLACH UPDATE — Media Present — March 28, 2011 march 28, 2011 john moorlach

1/3/11

MOORLACH UPDATE — 2010 Review — January 3, 2011 january 3, 2011 john moorlach

12/5/10

MOORLACH UPDATE — OCBJ — December 5, 2010 december 6, 2010 john moorlach

11/1/10

MOORLACH UPDATE — Dinner Debate — November 1, 2010 november 1, 2010 john moorlach

10/12/10

MOORLACH UPDATE — Coyotes — October 12, 2010 october 13, 2010 john moorlach

8/17/10
MOORLACH UPDATE — OCBJ — August 17, 2010 august 17, 2010 john moorlach

8/2/10

MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy 25th JWA — August 2, 2010 august 2, 2010 john moorlach

6/14/10

MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC – June 16, 2010 june 16, 2010 john moorlach

4/26/10
MOORLACH UPDATE — OCBJ — April 26, 2010 april 26, 2010 john moorlach

4/19/10

MOORLACH UPDATE — OCBJ — April 19, 2010 april 19, 2010 john moorlach

12/22/09
MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS & OCBJ — December 22, 2009 december 22, 2009 john moorlach

11/30/09

MOORLACH UPDATE — OCBJ — November 30, 2009 november 30, 2009 john moorlach

10/6/08
MOORLACH UPDATE — Twitter Musick — October 9, 2013 october 9, 2013 john moorlach

9/8/08

MOORLACH UPDATE — Poised for Laura’s Law — September 8, 2013 september 7, 2013 john moorlach

7/14/08

MOORLACH UPDATE — Memorial Gardens Building — July 10, 2013 july 10, 2013 john moorlach

3/24/08
MOORLACH UPDATE — Mulling and Inching — March 25, 2013 march 25, 2013 john moorlach

3/10/08

MOORLACH UPDATE — Harold De Boer — March 13, 2013 march 13, 2013 john moorlach

12/31/07
MOORLACH UPDATE — Happy New Year! — December 31, 2012 december 31, 2012 john moorlach

12/10/07
MOORLACH UPDATE — Assumption Rate Impac;ts — December 12, 2012 december 12, 2012 john moorlach

2/26/07
MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Register — February 27, 2011 february 28, 2012 john moorlach

1/29/07

MOORLACH UPDATE — Nick Berardino — January 28, 2012 january 28, 2012 john moorlach

1/8/07

MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — January 10, 2011 january 10, 2012 john moorlach

12/11/06

MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 109 & CalOptima — December 12, 2011 december 12, 2011 john moorlach

11/6/06

MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — November 9, 2011 november 9, 2011 john moorlach

8/7/06
MOORLACH UPDATE — Jefferson County — August 8, 2011 august 8, 2011 john moorlach

6/12/06
MOORLACH UPDATE — LB Press-Telegram — June 12, 2011 june 13, 2011 john moorlach

6/5/06
MOORLACH UPDATE — Today’s Hot Off The Press Update — Your Thoughts? june 7, 2011 john moorlach

5/29/06
MOORLACH UPDATE — Memorial Day — May 26, 2011 may 26, 2011 john moorlach

1/30/06
MOORLACH UPDATE — Retroactive Waste — January 31, 2011 january 31, 2011 john moorlach

12/19/05

MOORLACH UPDATE — Lone Voice — December 17, 2010 december 17, 2010 john moorlach

8/8/05

MOORLACH UPDATE — OC Weekly — August 6, 2010 august 6, 2010 john moorlach

7/11/05

MOORLACH UPDATE — KABC — July 12, 2010 july 12, 2010 john moorlach

5/5/05

MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — May 10, 2010 may 10, 2010 john moorlach

12/13/04
MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — December 13, 2009 december 12, 2009 john moorlach

12/8/04

MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — December 8, 2009 december 8, 2009 john moorlach

9/6/04
MOORLACH UPDATE — Retroactive Pensions — september 8, 2009 john moorlach

8/16/04

MOORLACH UPDATE — Twentieth Anniversary — December 5, 2014 december 6, 2014 john moorlach

9/1/03

MOORLACH UPDATE — New Geography — September 4, 2013 september 4, 2013 john moorlach

10/6/03
MOORLACH UPDATE — Twitter Musick — October 9, 2013 october 9, 2013 john moorlach

7/28/03

MOORLACH UPDATE — Federal Task Force — July 27, 2013 july 27, 2013 john moorlach

4/7/03
MOORLACH UPDATE — Property Tax Due Date — April 10, 2013 april 10, 2013 john moorlach

3/4/02
MOORLACH UPDATE — Encyclopedia of Municipal Bonds — March 6, 2012 march 6, 2012 john moorlach

10/1/01

MOORLACH UPDATE — VLF Theft — October 1, 2011 october 1, 2011 john moorlach
9/4/00

MOORLACH UPDATE — Labor Day Weekend — September 4, 2010 september 4, 2010 john moorlach

12/13/99
MOORLACH UPDATE — LOOK BACKS — December 13, 2009 december 12, 2009 john moorlach

7/6/98

MOORLACH UPDATE — Preserving — July 8, 2013 july 8, 2013 john moorlach

4/19/97

MOORLACH UPDATE — IRS — April 10, 2012 april 10, 2012 john moorlach

3/17/97
MOORLACH UPDATE — Laura’s Law — March 19, 2012 march 19, 2012 john moorlach

3/10/97

MOORLACH UPDATE — Bye, Bye — March 9, 2011 march 9, 2012 john moorlach

8/5/96

MOORLACH UPDATE — Wild Animals — August 5, 2011 august 5, 2011 john moorlach

8/28/95

MOORLACH UPDATE — Voice of OC — August 26, 2010 august 27, 2010 john moorlach

12/12/94
MOORLACH UPDATE — Harbor Patrol — December 12, 2009 december 12, 2009 john moorlach

The second piece below is from the LA Times and addresses the current debate over how California prioritizes and spends its transportation funds. It goes into detail on how certain funds have been diverted and how that may be prevented in the future.

Overall, I commend the reporter’s willingness to give a fair review of the facts.
Unfortunately, the piece does not cover how Governor Brown has intentionally reduced spending on transportation during his two terms. While increasing the size of his annual budgets by more than 5 percent per year, the amount devoted to fixing roads has decreased. It’s a budget crime and a manufactured crisis. So, guilting taxpayers into another tax increase is unconscionable.

I also recently contacted the Legislative Analyst’s Office to review some concerns and specific questions that my office had about the taxes and expenditures for the state’s transportation system. You can find the LAO’s response here: https://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/transportation.

Here is my e-mail to the reporter showing the hard data in a slide on the trends. I follow that with a graph on gas prices. Why? Because the real hidden agenda may just be to go after gas-powered vehicles. It’s sick, but that’s what you can do when you control the Governor’s mansion and the State Legislature and have an agenda. You add to this those who will generate corporate profits from the expenditure of this new tax and the picture gets even uglier.

Patrick,

Here is the research we did a few years ago on gas tax revenues, which were trending up, and the Caltrans budget, which was trending down.

This means that the funding that the state has been allocating to transportation has been trending down, while gas tax revenues were trending up. The state has been reducing its skin in the game. Therefore, it has diverted the revenues. Where [the diverted funds] have gone is the big question. Other areas, like MediCal funding or pension contributions or both.

But, with annual budget increases and not restoring funds back to transportation makes a gas tax increase dubious.

It’s been the game in Sacramento to shift funds elsewhere. For the DoF and the Governor to cry poor boy is unfair and looks premeditated. The lower funding appears to have been a choice made by the Governor and those who have voted for the annual budgets.

I look forward to your scholarship and sleuthing.

Source: Energy Information Administration (Courtesy of Stillwater Associates LLC)

Dear friend, in case you haven’t seen it, you are one of the highlights on the Inside OC “farewell” show that began airing this past Sunday. Here’s the YouTube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxNFd5OA734

We’ve loved doing the show, and you know how much OC needs public programming, but after 14 years I’ve tired of the production side of things.

This finale focuses on the past three seasons (the latest incarnation of the show.)

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

By Patrick McGreevey

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

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 aSacramento 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,” Fongsaid.

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.

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This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

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MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — Proposition 6 — August 11, 2018

Campaign season has started and November 6th is not that far off. One of the ballot measures you will be voting on is Proposition 6, which would repeal the gas and auto tax increase voted in by the Democratic supermajority and one Republican last year with Senate Bill 1.

The battle over Prop. 6 will be between taxpayers and tax-eaters. The “tax-eaters” are the cities, counties and state that will be fixing the roads. It is also the companies that will be retained to assist in this effort. So, the private sector industries benefiting from the taxpayers will be opposing this ballot measure in order to protect their potential profits. As they say, “when money talks, the truth is silent.” So you will hear plenty of reasons to oppose Prop. 6 by this well funded, and selfishly motivated constituency.

The sad story is that if this collaboration of tax-eaters could just convince Caltrans to be one of the better managed Departments of Transportation, we could have avoided this debate. Governor Brown failed in improving this department.

The “taxpayers” are you and your neighbors who are feeling the stress of being overtaxed. Last month, in the 29th Senate District, the voters showed their dissatisfaction with the gas tax increase by recalling their Senator, who had voted for it. The natives are definitely restless and this will be a fierce fall campaign battle.

The titular leader of the Proposition weighs in with two similar editorial pieces. The first is from the San Diego Union-Tribune and the second is from the San Francisco Chronicle. Carl DeMaio has been the energy bunny on this issue and continues to lead the charge. If you’ve been reading my UPDATEs since my election to the State Senate, you’ll see my research in both pieces.

Why Californians should repeal gas tax

By Carl DeMaio

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/commentary/sd-utbg-prop6-gas-tax-repeal-20180803-story.html

Californians are struggling as the cost of living skyrockets higher. Unfortunately, state politicians are simply adding to the financial strain on working families with massive increases in our gas and car taxes.

That’s why it is important to vote Yes on Proposition 6 to repeal these regressive and unfair tax hikes that will increase the cost of living for the typical family of four by up to $800 more per year.

It gets worse! If we don’t pass Proposition 6, the car and gas tax hikes are slated to increase every year automatically — without a vote of the people.

This year Californians will pay nearly $1 more per gallon because of taxes, fees and other government mandates. By 2021, many Californians will be paying close to $2 more a gallon extra because of taxes, fees and other government mandates — that’s up to $40 extra each time you fill up your car.

Everyone agrees we need to fix our roads, but state politicians and special interests are lying to voters when they claim the gas and car tax hikes will be used to fix our crumbling roads.

As we have seen in the past, the gas tax money is largely diverted away from roads and what little funding that is provided to roads is riddled with waste, fraud and abuse.

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, released an independent analysis of CalTrans’ budget showing that only 20 percent of the gas tax funds were spent anywhere near roads.

Where do the politicians divert the gas tax money to? The funding has been diverted to cover budget deficits so politicians can continue to spend in other areas like higher salaries and pensions for state workers. For example, bus drivers in the Bay Area are earning six figures annually — with one bus driver earning $227,516 in pay and benefits last year alone!

Of the funds actually spent on infrastructure, the majority of funds get diverted from roads to transit buses, light rail projects, bike lanes (to replace roads), and even park land acquisition.

Our existing transportation agencies are riddled with waste and inefficiency. A recent study by the Reason Foundation shows for every $1 spent on average nationally to maintain or repair a mile of roadway, California spends $4.7 dollars for the same mile — a waste inflation factor of 470 percent.

Politicians will try to mislead you by bringing up the recently approved Proposition 69. Written entirely by politicians themselves, it is not the “lock box” they claim it is.

First, Proposition 69 did not cover all of the gas tax and transportation taxes we have to pay. Second, Proposition 69 contained zero accountability on where the gas funds will be spent — transit, bike lanes, parks, rail projects, etc. could receive all the funds instead of roads. Finally, the gas tax measure is specifically written to allow the governor to transfer the funds to cover General Fund shortfalls without a vote of the legislature or the people.

By voting Yes on Proposition 6 you can back a better solution to fix our roads without tax hikes.

Consider this simple fact: Before the latest gas and car tax hikes, Californians already paid one of the highest gas tax rates in the nation. That provides more than enough funding to have great roads, but only if the money is properly spent.

The Proposition 6 coalition not only seeks the repeal of the gas and car tax hikes, but we propose all of the previous gas tax be spent entirely on roads. We also propose earmarking the sales tax on cars to regional, inter-modal transportation projects. Finally we would impose significant accountability, efficiency and transparency reforms to make sure our funds are effectively spent.

A Yes vote on Proposition 6 will provide immediate tax relief to working families to help them with their cost of living. A Yes vote on Proposition 6 sends a message to out-of-touch politicians that we must make California more affordable, not less affordable. And a Yes vote on Proposition 6 puts us on the path to fixing our roads without a tax hike.

Nearly 1 million Californians signed the petition to get Proposition 6 on the ballot — Democrats, independents and Republicans all see our cost of living as unsustainable. Get more information on the Yes on Prop 6 campaign and join our grassroots effort by going to www.GasTaxRepeal.org.

DeMaio, a former San Diego City Councilmember, is Chairman of Reform California – Yes on Prop 6.

 

OPINION

Repeal California’s gas tax increase and require road repairs

By Carl DeMaio
https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Repeal-California-s-gas-tax-increase-and-13145858.php

In this era of divisive politics, here’s something everyone can agree on: The cost of living in California is way too high. And the recently imposed increases in the state gasoline taxes and vehicle fees will hit working families hard by increasing the cost of living for the typical family of four by roughly $800 per year.

These tax increases are unfair, regressive and simply too much. That’s why nearly 1 million Californians from all walks of life signed the petition to get Proposition 6, the “Voter Approval for Future Gas and Vehicle Taxes and 2017 Tax Repeal Initiative,” on the ballot. Democrats, independents and Republicans all see our cost of living as unsustainable.

In addition to providing immediate tax relief to working families by repealing the gas tax and vehicle fee increases, a “yes” vote on Prop. 6 sends a message to out-of-touch politicians that we must make California more, not less, affordable.

If we don’t pass Prop. 6, a gas tax is slated to increase every year automatically — without a vote of the people.

This year, Californians will pay nearly $1 more per gallon because of increased taxes, vehicle registration and commercial weight fees and other government mandates such as the cap-and-trade assessment on fuels. By 2021, many Californians will be paying close to $2 more a gallon extra because of taxes, fees and other government mandates.

In addition to fighting the higher costs, a “yes” Prop. 6 will end this fraud being perpetrated by Sacramento: That the state spends the money to fix our roads. Want proof? Prior to these gas and car tax increases, California drivers were already paying some of the highest gas taxes in the country, and yet we still have the fourth-worst roads, according to Business Insider.

State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa (Orange County), a certified public accountant, has called out a California Legislative Analyst Office’s analysis of state highway and road programs funding and spending that shows only 20 percent of the gas tax funds were spent on roads.

The politicians will claim that Proposition 69, the “Transportation Taxes and Fees Lockbox” initiative approved by 81 percent of the electorate in June, provides a guarantee for road spending, but that is a flat lie.

Prop. 69 fails to cover all the transportation taxes we pay. It fails to guarantee even a single penny for roads. Instead, Prop. 69 allows the money to be diverted to a wide range of programs, including bike lanes, parkland acquisition, transit programs, light rail, and the state’s debt-ridden government pension program. Finally, the law gives the governor the ability to transfer all gas tax funds to cover General Fund shortfalls without even a vote of the Legislature or the people!

Bottom line: There is no guarantee for roads in these more recent gas and vehicle tax increases.

What little money that does make it to the roads is riddled with waste, fraud and abuse. The Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report reveals that California spends 2.6 times per mile more than the national average on state-controlled highways.

In 2014, California state auditors slammed Caltrans for “weak cost controls” that “create opportunities for fraud, waste and abuse.” Those same auditors also found Caltrans is overstaffed by 3,500 employees at a cost of a half billion dollars a year. One Caltrans engineer even golfed for 55 days while on the clock!

There is a better plan to fix our roads and transportation systems without a tax increase that will hurt working families.

The Prop. 6 coalition not only seeks the repeal of the gas tax and vehicle fee increases imposed by the Legislature this year, but we propose that 100 percent of gas tax revenues be spent on roads. We also propose earmarking the sales tax on autos for regional inter-modal transportation projects approved by voters in the region served. Finally, we would impose significant accountability, efficiency and transparency reforms to make sure our tax funds are effectively spent.

A “yes” vote on Prop. 6:

•Puts us on the path to fixing our roads without a gas tax increase.

•Gives struggling working families a break when they need it the most.

Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city council member, is the chairman of Reform California — Yes on Prop 6. For more information, go to www.GasTaxRepeal.org To comment, submit your letter to the editor at SFChronicle.com/letters.

 

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MOORLACH UPDATE — Changing Behaviors — August 4, 2017

As a Certified Public Accountant, I had the privilege of watching how changes in Federal income tax law would modify the behavior of high net worth individuals. But, the middle-class also changes behavior with the times. For example, when interest rates went down to historic lows, homeowners refinanced their mortgages to lower their monthly payments.

When Gov. Pete Wilson raised the bunker fuel tax charged to ocean-going vessels, major shipping companies refueled in the states of Oregon and Washington and California’s fuel tax revenues took a dive (pun intended).

California is now intentionally raising the cost of a gallon of gasoline through higher taxation, thanks to Senate Bill 1 (see see MOORLACH UPDATE — Not Amused — April 17, 2017 april 17, 2017john moorlach) and Cap and Trade (see see MOORLACH UPDATE — Crushing Blow — July 21, 2017 july 21, 2017 john moorlach). What changes in behavior will we see?

With Gov. Brown releasing state prison inmates with Assembly Bill 109, personal property crime has risen (see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 109 & CalOptima — December 12, 2011 december 12, 2011 john moorlach). And Propositions 47 and 57 have not helped this increase in lawlessness (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Propositions 47 and 57 — December 8, 2016 december 8, 2016 john moorlach).

Following the trend and being logical about it, get ready for an increase in another behavior, siphoning gasoline. The Sacramento Bee presents my editorial submission on this likely premise. I’m just trying to warn you and to save you a little money.

But, that’s not all. The Democrats are also looking at adding a service tax to the mix. Therefore, if you are an attorney and bill a client $500 for services rendered, you may have to bill $600 and remit the $100 service tax of 20 percent, to the State of California.

How will this impact behavior? Well, the country of India just implemented its Goods and Service Tax (GST) approach and its economy has taken a dive in the last few weeks. Just Google it.

BONUS: The summer evening BBQ and Taco Bar fund raiser at the home of Scott and Wendy Baugh on August 10th is almost at full capacity. There are still a few spaces available and I would love to see you there! For more information, contact Scott@MoorlachforSenate.com or go to MOORLACH CAMPAIGN UPDATE — BBQ Invitation — July 22, 2017 july 22, 2017 john moorlach. My thanks to Cox Communications for being our corporate sponsor.

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SOAPBOX

Why you should buy a locking gasoline cap

BY JOHN MOORLACH

Special to The Bee

We should anticipate black and gray markets in fuel, now that the Legislature has approved a cap-and-trade gasoline tax increase, estimated by the Legislative Analyst’s Office as much as 73 cents a gallon, plus the 12-cent increase from the gas-tax hike passed earlier this year.

A gray market is legal, but not officially sanctioned. The black market already is here.

“Organized crime gangs are buying hundreds or thousands of gallons of diesel fuel, and reselling them to make an untraceable profit,” NPR reported in 2014. Such crime is prevalent, Glendale police Officer Dan Suttles told the network.

In April 2012, then-Los Angeles Controller Wendy Gruel reported $7 million in missing city gasoline. That led a reader to contact the police about a city gardener, who later was arrested for allegedly selling thousands of dollars of city-owned gasoline on the black market, the Los Angeles Times reported.

One can’t predict how much gas and diesel thefts could rise, but the tax increase coming in November may give an indication of what will happen when the new cap-and trade tax takes effect.

April’s $2 boost to the price of a pack of cigarettes changed behaviors. An LAO report noted that in the two months before the tax increase took effect, tobacco tax revenue ran 24 percent and 37 percent above 2016 levels.

But the extra revenue was quickly snuffed out. The May 2017 cigarette tax revenues dropped 64 percent from May 2016. According to the report, some cigarettes could be coming from states with taxes lower than California’s.

Crime has been getting worse since Jerry Brown was elected governor. The Bee reported, three-quarters of California’s largest cities saw violent crime rise in 2015, with Sacramento’s up 25 percent.

When fuel is contraband, the perpetrator makes a quick profit and pays no cap-and-trade or other taxes of any kind. Before the gasoline tax hike comes on Nov. 1, I would recommend buying a lock for your gas tank.

Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa

Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, can be contacted at senator.moorlach.

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