Legislators propose differing plans to fund state-wide highway repair


Road constructionThere is consensus that California’s roads and highways must be fixed. There is no consensus how the fix should be paid for.

A Special Session legislative meeting Friday was called a first step in finding agreement to the funding problem. The Democrats see tax increases as part of the mix; Republicans want to prioritize the use of existing dollars for the roads. The tricky part of compromise is the push for any taxes in the context of so many other tax increases that could be presented to voters in 2016.

Governor Jerry Brown has proposed a yearly funding package for the roads of $3.6 billion. The package includes a 6-cent gasoline tax increase, an 11-cent diesel tax increase — both tied to inflation — a $65 car fee and cap-and-trade funds. His proposal is little more than half what legislative Democrats and a coalition of business, labor and construction groups have called for.

Republican proposals also include cap-and-trade money. In this case, the money would be used directly for the roads. The governor’s plan would funnel cap-and- trade dollars to bus lanes and rail. The Republicans also would trim CalTrans staff, direct weight fees and other transportation monies exclusively for the roads and employ other methods without raising taxes.

Not only have the Republicans expressed opposition to tax increases but there is no certainty that all Democratic legislators would support a tax increase.

The informal group of moderate Democrats who banned together to stop the provision to cut petroleum use in half over 15 years in climate change bill SB350 objected that their constituents would pay a higher cost for commuting. And cap-and-trade now covers gasoline refining and has raised the cost of gasoline about 10-cents a gallon. Additional taxes on gasoline would adversely affect many of their constituents, the moderate Democrats believe.

The governor wants the funding package to move through the Legislature quickly for strategic reasons.

For one thing, the plunging cost of gasoline may undermine the argument that the gas tax increase will hurt low-income drivers. Even a tax increase on gas would leave the cost of a gallon of gasoline well below recent price levels.

If debate lingers until next year, it becomes an issue for candidates running for office in an election year. Remember, a car fee increase was a major reason for a governor’s recall just a decade ago.

If a package of gasoline taxes and car fees should end up on the ballot it would likely get a cold stare from the voters. Likely there will be a number of tax increases on the November ballot. An extension of Proposition 30, a cigarette tax, perhaps a property tax, maybe others could be on that ballot. A roads funding package will not look so good in the context of all these tax increase proposals.

The roads and highways are the veins and arteries that pump life into our economic system. They must be cared for to prevent the economic system from getting a form of man-made sclerosis. The governor and legislators during the Special Session are walking a tightrope to balance the need to improve the roads and highways with voters being turned-off by a slew of tax proposals.


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  1. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 20 October, 2015, 07:58

    We just had our part of State Route 3 in Siskiyou County resurfaced thise summer butt theres pribibly other hiways that need repaired

    Reply this comment
  2. Mr. Whistle
    Mr. Whistle 20 October, 2015, 15:49


    This is pathetic. First, in Spring the State got a windfall of Capitol gains funding equally $6 billion dollars. Also, we are wasting money on the stupid bullet train to nowhere. And, the State has NOT coughed up information on WHAT and HOW MUCH of fuel taxes were TRANSFERRED to the general account over the last few years. Also, Hybrid/electric cars use the roads, yet pay NO fuel taxes. On top of this, every Bridge in CA has raised Toll costs.
    Perhaps the Air Resources Board should share in this, as the Diesel Bus Conversion/Update Fund is flush with cash…………..
    If the state would quit stealing gas tax funds for other purposes, then we might have the money to do this w/o raising taxes on one of the most expensive gas costs in the country.
    these legislative CLOWNS have no clue what they are doing.
    And what about the BICYCLE crowd? They pay nothing, but use roads and where do you think all the money for the thousands of mile of special constructed bicycle paths came from. Maybe those few million of those bicyclists should pay a $10 year bike registration cost?
    We must hold the legislature and Governor responsible for the original intent of road taxes, and that being 100% must be used for road related maintenance and building. Can you say
    CONSTITUTIONAL AMEDMENDMENT regarding road taxes…….

    Reply this comment
    • DON
      DON 20 October, 2015, 17:06


      Reply this comment
  3. Colonel Art
    Colonel Art 20 October, 2015, 16:02

    How about a decrease in our fat legislators’ pay and allowances to foot the bill. They should be more than willing to help the “middle class” they say they are doing all this for?!?!? Or maybe you could use some of the money filled from the taxpayers that you earmark and spend on “illegal aliens?”

    Reply this comment
  4. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 20 October, 2015, 22:27

    If we could tax Hot Air Al Gore and the idiots from the Sierra Club and Greenpeace would be realy useful

    Reply this comment
  5. Dork
    Dork 21 October, 2015, 06:30


    There shall be No taxpayer funds spent on Health Insurance of any kind for any Public Employee or Retiree,
    all monies saved shall be transferred to the highway department for road repair.
    All Public Employees and Retirees shall purchase their own Health Insurance Police from the California Covered Exchange.

    Not only will we have MORE than enough money to repair our infrastructure, the massive boost of enrollment in Obamacare will save the California Exchange and ALLOW the Democrats to GIVE FREE Health Care to their highly coveted Illegal Aliens. and it won’t COST Taxpayers a single dime.

    Problem Solved, what do I win?

    Reply this comment
  6. ProfiDriver
    ProfiDriver 10 December, 2015, 08:26

    Pay must be done if repair withstand 10 ears after it done. Look, no one care about the quality of this work. If any of us has to pay for work done by contractors we will check its quality. And what we hove got on our road??? Hole! Hole! Hole!
    I gues the best pay for this kind of work should be – Hole!

    Reply this comment

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