Look at your checkbook/credit card – how much has SB 1 (the gas tax increase) cost you since January? What have you got to show for it?

20 Aug

Watching the Yes on Prop 6 (roll back the gas tax increase) commercial, I was reminded some revenues from SB 1 (the gas tax increase) will not be used to fix our roads. I’d already read one analysis of SB 1 that reported roughly half the funding would be used for projects like bicycle lanes and public transportation projects. Looking for more information about how our state gas and vehicle taxes are divvied up, I found the Overview of the 2017 Transportation Funding Package.

About half our gas and car revenues – $400 million – go toward fixing state bridges and culverts – a report a few years ago listed an outrageous number of bridges all over the state that had been let go to the point of being unsafe, after years of neglect. While that seems appropriate, we have to wonder what else is going to pot while they’re concentrating on bridges and culverts.

But  it’s true, the other biggest chunk – about $300 million – goes into “self-help” counties and “active transportation.” “Self-help” is a weird way of saying, county owned public transportation lines. “Active transportation” makes a little more sense – any form of “self-propelled” transportation. So, they mean, bus and train lines, and bicycle lanes. 

I sat in on a meeting of various local agencies a few months back, a group of people plotting to get state and federal money for bus and train lines to nowhere, that weren’t even projected to have a 40 percent return in fares. This year we also saw grant funding being used for a questionable “experiment” pitting bike riders against people trying to park their cars Downtown. Do you really think it costs $350,000 to paint a white strip on the street? No, most of the money got allocated into paying salaries and pensions Downtown. 

The rest of the gas tax and vehicle fees pot is split up – $25 million for freeway patrols, $25 more for local planning  grants, $7 million for university research  and then $5 million in workforce development. You can use your imagination to figure out how they will spend those funds, I’m sure they will!

Okay here’s the sticker. I want you to rub this one in good.  At the bottom of the chart, there’s a box titled “Remaining Funds” – that would be, what’s left after they extract all that above from the roughly $1 billion they expect to generate annually in gas tax and car registration fees. I think that’s $300 million, read the report and do your own math.  That would be split 50/50 between “Highway maintenance/rehabilitation” and “Local streets and roads maintenance/ rehabilitation.”

Did you watch the commercial from Jerry Brown’s people? They insinuate they will use the tax increase to fix potholes and other road hazards, to prevent serious accidents. But less than half of the money will go in that direction. Less than a third. 

You can look for more information yourselves, the context of California SB 1 is available on line, you can read for yourselves – essentially, they’re strong-arming money out of us to force us to pay for bike lanes and public transportation that are not supported by the majority of the population.  We pay, but we still drive on roads that are voiding the warranty on our tires, and according to the NO on 6 people, causing horrific accidents. Their campaign is misleading. You have to ask yourself, look at your credit cards – how much has SB 1 cost you since January 2018, and what have you got in return?




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