Yesterday morning’s Senate Governance and Finance Committee meeting only had one bill on its agenda, Senate Bill 1, Senator Beall’s transportation tax proposal. I stated that we all can agree that our roads need to be better maintained, but lamented that California’s legislature requires those living in homeowner associations to set funds aside, when it does not follow this sage advice itself.
I also lamented that the Legislature placed a higher priority on employees than roads (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Dam Problem). And I shared that the high-speed rail project should be stopped and the funding used for roads (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Fresno High-Speed Rail ).
Here are the majority of them, paraphrased for conciseness:
1. With the approval by the voters last year of Proposition 55 and its personal income tax increase continuance and Proposition 56, the tobacco tax of $2 per pack, has the state hit the Gann limit? I cited a recent LA Times article for my question. This is based on an recent brief by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
2. With the signing of last year’s Senate Bill 32, which furthers the mandate in reducing the consumption of gasoline, why are we still focusing on taxing it to maintain our roads?
3. With our young people driving long distances to their places of employment due to the high cost of housing (drive until you qualify), why aren’t we modifying CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) — which severely restricts developers’ ability to produce in-fill housing — to build more housing closer to job centers? After all, it is the state’s bad and severely antiquated laws that are now ruining our byways.
4. With the percentage of those at or below the poverty rate at the highest levels in the nation, why are we taxing the poor to fix our highways? We constantly hear about college students that are actually starving and families having to decide between food or gas. Why are the Democrats increasing costs for our poor? (Also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Sieve)
5. Why are we trying to invest in public transit when ridership is down? Are the poor, who are supposed to benefit from this public service, driving or carpooling instead? Plus, something that is not often discussed is the significant wear and tear to arterial highways caused by the constant use of heavy buses.
6. Why not increase the Vehicle License Fee? At least it would be deductible on individual income tax returns and would capture cars that are not paying the gas tax.
7. Why not have an electricity tax for those who charge their zero-emission vehicles at home?
8. The bill provides for $70 million in “efficiency improvements” at Caltrans (though I have no idea what that means or how one would measure it). If Caltrans reduces the 3,300 architects and engineers that have been deemed excessive, we can save $500 million. Then, if Sacramento outsourced 50% of our architects and engineers like most of the other states do, California can save another $200 million. I proposed a bill to do just that last year, SB 1X 9 (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SBX1–9). You can also review the information we gathered here. Right there, we can achieve $700 million in savings. Why are we only aiming for ten percent of that amount? After all, Caltrans is one of the worst performing departments of transportation in the country. (Also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Seven Solutions for Caltrans).
I closed by stating that the majority party just approved $2.7 billion in state employee wage and benefit increases, but have not allocated one dollar to our roads. So rather than keep going to the people for tax increases , why don’t we tax the state. A five percent across the board reduction for every department, something that is done during economic downturns, will provide $6.125 billion without a tax increase. It is all about priorities.
Without an overall reform of the state’s budgeting plan to address our roads and other deferred expenditures, Californians will see another tax increase soon to address the unfunded defined benefit pension plan liabilities. And then another tax increase a couple of years later to fix our dams. And the nonsense continues. That’s how this blue state strategy works. Wait until it is really broken and scream for a tax increase.
KCRA Channel 3 was intrigued by my questions and came by for an interview. It is the first piece below. The LA Times must have been watching, as they provide the second piece below.
Obamacare has resurfaced as Washington, D.C. finally fixes this sad and tragic era in our nation’s history. I’ve been here before. I even predicted this massive and wasteful program would fail and be a heavy weight for our children and grandchildren (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Obamacare). The Sacramento Bee has me recalling these fun memories from four years ago, when I was serving as Chair of the Board of Supervisors, in the third piece below.
The lone voice of opposition in committee on Wednesday came from Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who argues the bill places too much of a burden on the state’s poor.
“They’re hurting those at the poverty level or below, which is right now the highest of any state in the nation,” Moorlach said.
“We’ve got a state that has said, ‘We want to incentivize the acquisition of electric cars. Oh, and by the way, we fund our roads through gas taxes,’’’ he said. “So, again, there’s this disconnect, where Jerry Brown is incentivizing one, penalizing the other.”
Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) voted against the bill, saying Californians already pay high taxes for roads.
“How do we justify raising the gas tax when such a large percentage of people are at the poverty level and below, and they need their cars to get to jobs?” Moorlach asked.
State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said he has historically supported efforts to trim health education spending.
“I felt the federal government was getting into so much debt that this was more fluff than really useful tax dollars,” he said of health education programs. “It shouldn’t take much to educate someone to be preventative. … You could have saved more money by just giving everybody a gym membership. It makes sense to pare that down a bit.”