Times of San Diego: Separating Fact from Fiction in The $52 Billion Gas Tax Increase

By Patricia Bates
Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Published at Times of San Diego

The largest gas tax increase in California’s history is now law following Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature last Friday. As a strong opponent of the legislation, I urge California’s drivers to learn the facts and to hold accountable those who voted for the tax. Here’s my analysis of the Democratic majority’s claims and the facts behind Senate Bill 1.

Claim: Democrats claim money will only go to fund roads

Fact: There is $750 million per year for transit and $100 million per year for active transportation like biking and walking.

Fact: There is $7 million per year for university research.

Fact: There is $5 million per year allocated to pre-apprenticeship programs.

Claim: Democrats say SB 1 has no funding for parks

Fact: Sections 28 and 30 of SB 1 diverts $80 million a year to parks.

Claim: The Legislature has not increased transportation funding for 23 years

Fact: Democrats are responsible for diverting billions of dollars away from transportation for the past five years. They created the problem, and now we are faced with the consequences of it – their gas and car tax increase, the largest gas tax increase in California’s history.

Claim: Democrats claim their bill has reforms that lessen red tape for road construction and repair

Fact: Any opportunity for real reform was lost when Democrats refused to pursue efficiencies meant to reduce red tape. They could have streamlined and sped up road repair and construction projects to actually reduce congestion. But that would have meant Democrats making actual reforms.

Claim: These taxes end after 10 years.

Fact: Not only are the taxes and fees permanent, they automatically increase annually beginning in 2020.

Fact: Democrats are selling you on a 10 year plan, but it actually goes on forever and the money can be reallocated with a simple majority vote.

Claim: All this new money is put in a “lockbox,’ should the ACA 5 amendment protecting transportation funding be approved by the voters

Fact: The only reason a “lockbox” is needed is because Democrats keep raiding transportation funds for other pet projects. Despite the constitutional protections previously added by voters, Democrats continue to find loopholes to divert that money for other purposes. Since 2012, $100 million a year in gas tax money has been deposited into the General Fund and spent on things other than transportation.

Fact: All truckers pay a weight fee to help with the maintenance of the roads they use, this weight fee was kept out of the “lockbox.”

Claim: SB 1 will “only” cost taxpayers $52 billion over the next decade

Fact: It is likely that the taxes will cost drivers much more. 78 percent of California communities rely solely on trucking for delivery of goods. If the price of shipping goes up, that cost will have to be passed onto consumers, affecting everything from grocery bills to school shopping. The California Manufacturing and Technology Association estimated that cap and trade, including the hidden gas tax, would cost families as much as $2,500 per year in additional expenses.

Claim: None of these dollars will be used for the High-Speed Rail project

Fact: Section 31 of SB 1 qualifies to fund the operation of High-Speed Rail.

Fact: Part of the state constitution allows gas tax revenue to be spent on public mass transit, which would include High-Speed Rail.

Fact: No section of the bill prevents money from being diverted or reallocated to fund the boondoggle train to nowhere.

Claim: This bill will reduce traffic congestion and improve commutes

Fact: Less than five percent of the funds can go to reduce traffic congestion. $5.2 billion spent per year and there are no meaningful reforms or solutions to reduce traffic and smog.