That’s the message from Governor Brown and his Sacramento allies as they passed Senate Bill 1, imposing massive tax increases on California’s motorists. Our worn-out roads are a direct result of failed leadership and broken promises, not a lack of money. Californians already pay among the highest fuel and vehicle fees in the nation. Even so, our highways are among the country’s worst.
General Fund spending increased by $36 billion over the past six years with no additional revenue directed toward highway projects, while existing transportation funds were diverted elsewhere. Where did that money go? With more vehicles than any other state, economies of scale dictate we should pay less for fuel, not more.
Astonishingly, SB 1 provides little funding to expand road capacity and relieve congestion. The bill’s language explicitly prohibits any funding for “highway lane-capacity-increasing projects.” Nothing in SB 1 guarantees the new taxes will go to roads; 30 percent of the new revenues are already dedicated to non-transportation projects including parks, apprenticeships and bike lanes. But we’ll all enjoy a smooth ride as we creep along at 10 miles an hour, and pay a lot more for the experience.
SB 1, the unnecessary tax, will be a negative jolt to the state’s economy. Farmers, manufacturers, retailers, trucking and small business-owners all use diesel vehicles and machinery, and rely on trucks to move their products. My Republican colleagues and I support an alternate plan based on the premise that all funding for roads must go to roads, government must be more efficient and, most importantly, California’s highway gridlock must be reduced – without raising taxes!