By Tim Hunt
Legislature likely to raise taxes on gasoline this weekUploaded: Sep 8, 2015
Today the Legislature convenes for the final four days of the regular session, although members still must deal with both transportation financing and MediCal funding in special sessions until they can go home until the new year.
The governor helped moved the transportation forward when he produced his framework that called for $3.6 billion in funding for maintenance, repair and expansion of state and local roads. Raising the tax on gasoline 6 cents and the tax on diesel 10 cents are key parts of the program.
Doing something to get a sustainable funding source for roads is a key interest of both business groups and companies in the construction business so their representatives are lobbying legislators aggressively.
The Republican minority, because a tax measure will take a two-thirds majority in both houses, can influence the eventual legislation. Here's hoping that they hold firm on major changes to the money pit that is CalTrans as well as the environmental review process.
Gov. Brown has signed bills limiting environmental legal challenges to sports facilities in both Los Angeles and Sacramento. Given those actions, let's get the road network fixed and improved. Far more people use our roads than will go watch the Sacramento Kings shoot hoops.
I saw an interesting juxtaposition recently.
The Wall Street Journal's weekend edition on Aug. 22-23 carried a story reporting that seven million student loans are in default. That means, no payment in more than a year. The default number has climbed by 400,000 since last year.
The article reported that student debt had tripled over the past 10 years to $1.19 trillion. The article cited one San Francisco resident who was $70,000 in debt and was paying $1,100 a month?that's going to take years to even dent that total.
Remember the feds took over the student loan program in 2010 when President Obama signed legislation passed by the Democrat-dominated Congress. Later that year, the mid-term elections would end the short-lived (four years) Democrat majority in the house.
Two days earlier, I heard John Jackson, president of William Jessup University in Rocklin, discuss the sorry state of high education when it comes to affordability. He pointed out that the consumer price index (CPI) had increased 230 percent between 1968-2014. Housing was up 380 percent and health care up 600 percent.
Those substantial increases were dwarfed by the cost of higher education?it was up 1,160 percent.
The increases have skyrocketed since the federal government got into the loan business in the early 1990s.