Don’t Rush Toward Gas and Transportation Taxes

LA-Freeway-Xchange-110-105The governor and legislative leaders came out from behind closed doors with a transportation tax and road fix plan and demand to pass the measure through the legislature in one week. Feels a lot like the federal experience with the health care reform bill. And, like that measure, despite one party controlling the executive and legislative branch, the bill might not find necessary support.

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The campaign to pressure wavering legislators to get behind the bill kicked off yesterday in Concord with a lineup of Governor Jerry Brown, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President pro tem Kevin de León teaming up with union members to visit Senator Steve Glazer’s district and convince Brown’s one-time aide to publicly embrace the tax increase.

I seem to remember unions opposed Glazer when he first ran because of his stand against BART strikes. Different time and different unions, perhaps, but Glazer is still behind that issue. There are indications that Glazer is holding out for a no-strike provision in the transportation bill before he decides if he will support it.

While Brown, De León and Rendon will play old-fashioned political hard ball with legislative members in attempting to secure the needed two-thirds vote to pass the tax increases, ultimately individual legislators are going to have to be satisfied that their constituents will swallow the tax increase.

Voting patterns and attitudes have changed since Gov. Gray Davis was kicked out of office in great part because he increased the vehicle tax. While just about everybody believes road repair is necessary for improving the state’s economy and for the general public’s mental health while driving congested highways, yet, the double whammy of an increased vehicle registration fee and 43% gas tax increase will be a hard sell. Especially, to less well-off constituents those who have to drive a long way to get to work.

The transportation issue and health care issue are different in many ways, but the idea of rushing through a measure that will pile new burdens on the public has a familiar feel to what happened recently in Washington.

The strategy behind quickly passing the two quite different bills is similar: Pass a measure before it gets tangled up in amendments. A lot of amendments can and should be had.

At the Concord news event yesterday, Gov. Brown said, “There is nothing more fundamental in the business of government than making sure the roads and bridges don’t fall apart, and they are falling apart.”

But if roads and bridges are a fundamental responsibility for government, why wasn’t attention paid to them when the state budget grew dramatically since Brown returned to the governor’s office?

Brown says if we don’t address the problem now it will only get worse—and more expensive to fix. Right on both counts. However, using current transportation related dollars that find the way to non-transportation services or including proposals that will allow for more cost efficient repairs would go a long way to convince voters that government is trying to get the job done right and give good value for their tax dollars. It might even convince voters to chip in a little more to get the job done.

Legislators like Glazer are independent and not so easily coerced. Legislators should hear  from their constituents before voting on the bill. Rushing through the transportation bill without sensible changes could result in the same fate as the health care bill.

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily


  1. askeptic says

    At the rate that the Progs deal with real problems, all those old “El Camino Real” markers will come in handy when we’re reduced to travelling up and down the state via horseback and ox-cart.

  2. Unbelievable!! What happened to all of the money from the last road tax increase? Someone should sue for all gas tax funds NOT spent on the roads. Just keep electing fools like Brown, Pelosi, Harris, deLeon etc, etc

  3. For Years Caltrans has had to deal with the Legislators siphoning off gas tax dollars, meant for maintenance of roads and bridges, to pay for all their petty vote-getting projects. It appears now that their slush fund is drying up and needs to be refilled with more new taxes. California doesn’t have a revenue problem, they have a SPENDING problem! So why do we keep electing these “TAX AND SPEND” Democrats and somehow expect them to govern responsibly?

  4. So tell me, What was so offensive in my post that you had to remove it?

    • James V. Lacy says

      Your post was not removed. Comments are reviewed only for spam, pornographic or defamatory content. We are all volunteers and your post was approved within 31 minutes of submission. On a Sunday morning.

  5. I did a number of “refreshes” and the post appeared to be removed. Apparently, I did not wait long enough. My apologies!

    • James V. Lacy says

      It sometimes takes overnight for us to approve all comments because the reviewers might be on vacation or away from a computer, but we do our best to accommodate comments because fostering discussion and debate is so important. Since we started in late 2011, we have published 37,172 posted comments, including your own here.

  6. THE CAPTIVE says

    Gov. Brown sounds like he never heard of applying funds for the purpose they were intended. wE the people intended to for them to be applied to roads —UPKEEP (BRIDGES TOO) . Why won’t this lib-criminal and all his democratic fellow criminals admit the TRUTH? Because they think sharia thinking (which is criminal-from the get go) is just fine. The LEFT like to lie and cheat the public -that’s why there are so many criminals all over RIPPING US OFF! He and his fellow corrupt “helpers in crime” don’t give a damn about WE THE PEOPLE!

    • sweetsuzee says

      Actually the indebtedness is due to the pensions and the various unions. In CA we are now paying more pension funds to retirees than active staff. Pay attention to CalPers and how many billions they are underfunded and you will cry. Remember, the local city council members, managers, etc. are the ones that approve the salaries for the police, fire, teachers, etc. and the unions are the ones who control who wins those elections. It’s a lose-lose situation for taxpayers since most civil service employees are no longer underpaid by any stretch of the imagination.

  7. Reps:

    Let the Dems own raising gas taxes and vehicle registration fees. Californians like to raise taxes, as long as it is on someone else.

    Put an initiative on the 2018 ballot to repeal the Dems’ gas tax increase and require all transportation taxes and fees be spent on the roads.

    If the Reps won’t stand firm on raising taxes, why should we care if there are any Reps in the legislature.

    BTW, remember when you were duped into supporting the water bond by Dem promises to spend money on water storage? How did that work out?

  8. Let’em raise! And tax the rich 90%! That’s probably the only thing that will insure the collapse of the California Democrats! Or, stop returning the morons to office. Most people complain about the politicians but they keep voting for the same ones over and over. Meanwhile, hang on to your wallets, illegals need more benefits!

  9. Christian says

    Is anyone working to get any commercials out there to inform the public?
    Prop 111 was the same promise and the state diverts that money to the general fund, We get duped time and again.

    The best way to break the one party system is to educate the public how Democrats have completely misspent the already high taxes we pay.

    Is there any Republican leadership anywhere in the state?

  10. Gary Von Neida says

    Send Governor Moon Beam to a “rest home” as He has lost contact with reality. Supporting ILLEGAL ALIENS, THE TRAIN TO NOWHERE and other such foolishness while putting Californias’ taxpaying CITIZENS at risk of losing federal funding to save campaign contributions from Those that utilize the ILLEGAL ALIEN LABOR—enough is enough.

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