High-speed rail is the best reason to repeal the gas and car tax hike

High speed rail constructionWould you trust a surgeon who has a history of amputating the wrong limb? Of course not. For the same reason, California taxpayers should not trust our state politicians with more transportation dollars. Let’s get one thing clear from the outset. Any spending on the California high-speed rail project is, by definition, transportation spending. Therefore, any discussion about the wisdom of repealing the gas tax cannot ignore what the state of California has done with its “showcase” transportation project.

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The complete dysfunction of HSR is no longer in dispute.

The latest development is the failure of the HSR authority to issue its revised business plan to the California Legislature as required by law. Its excuse? The authority is in the midst of hiring staff so it can’t issue a timely report. Besides being a complete non sequitur, one would think that the hiring of additional staff would be a reason to issue a report as soon as possible.

Moreover, this latest shortcoming is consistent with the authority’s continued aversion to transparency. Just last month, Republican legislators called for an emergency audit when it became evident that just the Central Valley segment of the project was $1.7 billion over budget. While that request was denied, this week Democratic legislator Jim Beall joined with Republicans seeking a comprehensive audit when it was revealed that the Central Valley segment was actually a stunning $2.8 billion over budget.

Many who originally supported the high-speed rail project have had a dramatic change of heart. Quentin Kopp, a former state senator and High Speed Rail Authority chairman, is now vigorously opposed, noting that “this is not what the voters approved.” Likewise, the San Jose Mercury News this week ran an editorial entitled, “Stop the California Bullet Train in its Tracks.”

The foolishness of the project is especially evident when considering that one of its main purposes was the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, that justification is why the project is currently being funded almost exclusively by “cap-and-trade” funds that are generated by the sale of “carbon credits,” a hidden tax on energy.

But ironically, even the respected, nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office notes that the project is a net greenhouse gas producer. If the state of California were more serious about GHG emissions, it would direct those funds into more traditional transportation projects including road improvements and lane capacity. Stopped traffic produces more pollution than traffic that moves.

Despite the higher gas and car taxes that drivers have been paying since November, a new report by the State Auditor says transportation infrastructure remains one of the “high risk” issues facing California. Why? Because of uncertainty about the “effective and efficient use” of the money collected from the tax hikes.

In short, our current political leadership, which jammed the massive car and gas tax increase down our throats without a vote of the people, has no credibility whatsoever as acceptable stewards of transportation dollars. And as long the high-speed rail project continues, they never will.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

This article was originally published by the Orange County Register


  1. Please sign Carl DeMaio’s sponsored petition for the repeal. Carl has been working very hard on this. This could be a start of the “revolt”. Sacramento is dangerous.

    • Sacramento is dangerous and Jerry Brown is insane. Great combination to lead us. Someday the Democrats are going to realize that the government does not have any money. It neither produces nor generates so in order to give, it must TAKE. Enough already !!

  2. Don DeVincenzi says

    It needs to be exposed that the emerging purpose if not the original intent of the HSR project was/is to get cheap labor from the central valley to the fat cat silicon valley high tech businesses. I would love to see Cal news and views expose this in the open air.

  3. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown:
    Leading CA out of the Union, and into financial and social collapse.

  4. Mr. Pickle says

    STOP this Jerry Brown Memorial. Waste of money, not needed, and I would rather see more water storage facilities built in California…
    Now the question is, WILL Ca voters break the majority party come November and send a serious message like was done at the Federal Level in Nov 2016? My guess is Ca Gov is more corrupt than FBI & DOJ leadership, let alone Hillary……………. Remember State Parks in 2012???? Tomsquawk has it right!

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