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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Republicans put forth their state transportation plan

Uploaded: Jul 9, 2015
Assemblywoman Catharine Baker of San Ramon joined her Republican colleagues last week to present an interesting alternative approach to funding transportation in the state.
The Republicans were responding to Gov. Brown's call for a special session of the Legislature to deal with both Medi-Cal funding and transportation funding. As I wrote last week, when the governor announced the special session he wrote that fuel taxes generate about $2.3 billion for maintenance and repairs annually, leaving a shortfall of $5.7 billion that needs to be addressed. I also observed that with the state pushing very hard to significantly increase the percentage of electric vehicles in the statewide fleet there needed to be a fundamental change in the funding formula so all vehicles using the roads share in the maintenance costs.
Baker and her colleagues issued a well-conceived plan to using existing funds to put $6 billion more into the roads fund.
It would use the following sources: 40 percent of the cap-and-trade revenues; existing vehicle weight fees that were diverted to other uses during the recession; half of the governor's $400 million strategic growth fund that he has discretion to use as he pleases; eliminating what the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office estimates are 3,500 redundant positions at CalTrans; eliminating one-quarter of long-term vacant state positions with the savings going to transportation; allocating General Fund money routinely to transportation.
Spending in the last two state budgets grew by $8.1 billion and $7.5 billion and the analyst's office is estimating an additional $4 billion for the fiscal year that starts in July 2016. The analyst's office shows its three-year forecast would allow $1 billion from the general fund each year.
This is a simple, common-sense approach as are wiping out the redundant positions and returning the vehicle weight fees to their intended use. The cap-and-trade funds, which has become what amounts to a revenue gushing slush fund, will be more difficult. Sixty percent of those funds were allocated in the budget to high-speed rail (the bulk) plus public transit, affordable housing and sustainable communities.
It would be wonderful if the high-speed rail would go away and those funds could be diverted to transit and roads that people would actually use—but the governor has been determined to push that legacy project regardless of soaring costs and a questionable (at best) overall plan.
The Republican plan also calls for relief for transportation projects from the California Environmental Quality Act, something that a downtown Los Angeles stadium and a downtown Sacramento basketball arena received. Certainly, transportation is more important than stadiums and arenas.
Another wise change is removing the California Transportation Commission from the clutches of the Transportation Agency where Brown placed it in 2012. Until that re-organization, it had been an independent agency without direct control of the administration. This likely will be tough sledding in the Legislature, but it absolutely is the correct policy.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Jul 9, 2015 at 10:34 am

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

"This is a simple, common-sense approach..." <--- Right there is the reason this plan won't be accepted by our betters in Sacramento.

And getting rid of 3500 redundant jobs?? Never happen.

I'd like to hear from just 1 Democrat on why this plan should not be implemented.

Anyone? Bueller?

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Jul 9, 2015 at 12:01 pm

Hey Tim - they now have electric cars for the poor, Web Link .
So you can no longer single out the rich for their electric car tax credit. Now you have to include cars for free for the low income.
As for state road maintenance, almost every CA state sales tax increase over the years was suppose to be for the exclusive use of road maintenance. Where did this money go?
Passenger vehicles do not damage the roads, big semi tractor trailer rigs do. Drive next to one and observe the jackhammer effect of the wheel trucks. On i680 on the way to Sunol is a good area to watch the wheels actually crush the concrete. Yes, big rig owners pay taxes, but not nearly enough to make up for the damage they cause to roadways and bridges.

Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Jul 9, 2015 at 10:14 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.


So you say that truck owners should pay more taxes to fix roads, even while acknowledging that we already have other taxes that were created to cover roads? What makes you think that the revenue brought in from truck owners will FINALLY be used correctly?

The problem is our state law-makers not having their priorities straight coupled with wasteful spending.

There are 3500 redundant people just at Cal Trans. How many other redundant positions are there in the rest of state gov?

We keep electing these fools in the legislature and expect that things will just magically happen? 680 has been a mess for at least 15 years and NOTHING gets done.

But I guess we can just tax truck owners, who will just pass down that tax to the consumer and have us pay for the roads that won't get fixed.

Sounds great!

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Jul 10, 2015 at 12:22 pm

What I am saying is that the stuff coming from China could easily be made in the USA. If things were made in the US then truck traffic would be spread out over the entire country. The way it is now the truck traffic is concentrated going to and coming from the Port of Oakland. Freeways in the vacinity of the Port really take a beating, especially i580. Since the government gives no consideration to whether a highway is near a port, the county taxpayers end up paying extra money (measure B and BB) to fix the roads because of excessive truck traffic. These trucks do nothing for the surrounding community other than add pollution, noise, and damage to the roads and bridges.

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