By Tim Hunt
Legislators need to deal with state's horrible roadsUploaded: Aug 18, 2016
The “dog days of August” came to an abrupt end for most students in the valley this week, but they drag on in Sacramento as the Legislature grinds toward adjournment at the end of the month.
There are some key issues on the table:
• Dealing with transportation funding.
• Deciding whether to extend the cap-and-trade funding mechanism (a tax gusher with the exception of the most recent carbon credit sale that fell way short of expectations). More on this next week.
The governor called the Legislature into a special session almost a year ago to deal with transportation. The state faces a huge shortfall in funding for a basic road maintenance that grows worse every year—a Senate report put it at $135 billion for repairs. It no surprise to motorists that 68 percent of the roads are ranked in poor or mediocre condition.
Given the world-wide oil glut and the accompanying plunge in gasoline prices, sales tax revenue from gas sales as fallen as well. The basic gasoline tax hasn’t been raised since 1994, yet California motorists still play about 41 cents per gallon versus 30 cents nationally. Our prices are the highest nationally. Manufacturers also are producing cars that are much more efficient, both in terms of gasoline mileage and performance. There are plenty of six cylinder engines that provide the driving performance that used to take eight pistons.
Democrats in the Legislature and Gov. Brown have both proposed raising the gas tax, but it has gone nowhere because it will take a two-thirds majority and thus some Republicans must come on board.
Months ago, Republicans released a plan that re-allocated monies to transportation and increased spending without raising taxes.
The road crisis also is magnified by the state’s plan to change the auto fleet to electrically powered vehicles that currently pay NO user fee (gas tax) to drive on the roads. The governor proposed a modest fee for electrically-powered cars. In pursuit of lowering carbon emissions, the state air board regulators want to have half of the cars electrically powered by 2050.
There should be some room for compromise because bad roads know no political parties—it’s a pox on both.
And state revenues are still plenty healthy—expenditures this year are at an all-time high.
The common trait across the various Wente family enterprises (winery, golf course, restaurant, concerts) is the commitment and the execution when it comes to customer service.
However, we saw that commitment reach a new level Tuesday when we played a round at the Course at Wente Vineyards. It’s routine for golf maintenance workers, who often are on the course during weekday rounds, to shut down mowers when golfers are preparing to swing or putt.
On No. 17, we saw that concept taken to the extreme. A very large tracked bulldozer (a D-8 or something similar) was ripping an adjacent field to prepare planting with grapevines. It has been fallow for a while and sits between Arroyo Road and the golf course.
As three of us went to the tee box, the driver shifted the dozer into neutral and idled the engine. What was even more impressive is that he left it that way when my wife went to the women’s tee and hit her drive.