Special interests and bought-off legislators recently passed the largest gasoline tax increase in California history, probably in American history. And not one new highway mile will be built to help reduce congestion … not one!
Last session, I introduced Assembly Bill X1-14 during the transportation special session called by the governor. My bill required a formal commitment in the State Budget General Fund to provide $1 billion annually for transportation without raising taxes or fees, including $500 million for highway upgrades and $500 million for local streets and roads. According to revenue forecasts by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, state revenues were sufficient to fully fund education and the state’s rainy day fund and still dedicate $1 billion to transportation.
My bill was part of a nine-point, $6.6 billion plan to pay for transportation infrastructure and roads using existing tax dollars. Unlike the governor’s new gas tax plan which doesn’t address gridlock or highway expansion, these funds would have supported traffic congestion relief, road maintenance and mass transit. Unfortunately, the Democrat majority refused to consider the plan, and none of the bills received a committee hearing or floor vote.
Transportation funds from existing gas taxes have been raided to the tune of $1 billion annually for other uses, even though the money was promised for transportation by untruthful politicians. With this new tax, every time a motorist fills their tank they will pay about $16 in taxes and fees. In my floor speech, I asked for an audit of where all this money has gone.
The gasoline taxes are already among the nation’s highest. If transportation was a priority to majority politicians, it would already be budgeted and not an afterthought excuse for tax increases. The highways need an upgrade, but misplaced priorities by the governing majority should not result in gouging hard-working men and women. Californians deserve better.