Prop. 54 In Action

Seventy-two hours. That’s how long a bill must be in print before the Legislature can vote on it. SB 1 was amended at 2:39 p.m. on Monday. Therefore, it cannot be voted on until 2:39 p.m. on Thursday.

Session usually starts at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday. Well, it looks like it will be moved up to the afternoon. And, SB 1 will be voted on after 2:39 p.m., honoring the voter approved Proposition 54.

So, the Capitol is making history (at least since I’ve been here). It’s inconveniencing Legislators who are used to returning home around 11 a.m. on Thursdays. And it will learn if the Governor has found the two-thirds vote needed in the Senate (27 votes) and in the Assembly (54 votes) after making a dramatic road trip to the Districts of wavering Democrats.

The voters are watching and they are already paying a steep fee to live in California. Will they communicate their dissatisfaction with the condition of the roads? Surely the state’s residents recognize that the Democrats, who have controlled the Legislature for four decades, have allowed this infrastructure to deteriorate to such a poor quality. In 2018, Sacramento’s constituents can state that forcing a new tax, to fix something that was intentionally neglected road system, is unconscionable.

Our Governor has allowed the state’s budget to grow to historical highs in the last six years, but has made no emphasis on fixing roads, helping young families to live closer to job centers, or canceling the high speed rail boondoggle.

If California is really lucky, the voters will connect the dots in 2018 and both houses will be switched out. Far-fetched? The State of Kentucky did it on November 8, 2016. It was the first time in 95 years that this blue state went from Democrat to Republican control in both houses and in the Governor’s Mansion. Kentucky joins California as one of the seven worst managed “blue” states in the nation and its voters had enough and flipped the equation.

SB 1 allows for a similar opportunity. The voters should be aghast that California’s Department of Transportation has been so woefully mismanaged. Over-staffing, minimal outsourcing, false reports to the Legislature, and employees golfing while on state time. These have all been reported in my previous UPDATEs. The highest gas taxes in the nation, but the worst roads, means that Caltrans must be completely eliminated and replaced. I say we outsource California’s road maintenance to the State of Arizona, which is doing a great job.

Fox and Hounds, in the piece below, provides an editorial that prompts the above “behind the scenes” details and the potential for an embarrassment for our Governor or for the entire Legislature in the next election cycle.

The CalTrans Record of Shame

How is it even possible for a department to spend nearly five times as much to do the same job as other states are spending? Senator John Moorlach has identified at least one of the problems. In other states, private businesses are encouraged to compete for state highway contracts, ensuring that taxpayers get the benefit of competitive bidding. On average, he notes that in most states about half of design and engineering work goes to private sector bidders. In Arizona and Florida, that number is 80%, but in California it is a paltry 10%. That means we, as a matter of policy, turn our backs on the best and the brightest that the private sector has to offer.
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