Gov. Jerry Brown says it will cost $59 billion to address deferred state highway maintenance and another $78 billion to fix local streets, requiring “new money,” code word for “higher taxes.”
After the state mismanaged our transportation system for decades, its only answer is to raise taxes. What is wrong with the “old money” Sacramento controls? State legislators can find money for a bullet train to nowhere, free college tuition for illegal aliens, huge pay and pension increases for public sector unions, among many other questionable funding priorities.
The April 11 council meeting discussion between Finance Director John Adams and Councilmember Rob McCoy indicated how the gas tax is a bad deal for the city. It will generate approximately $17 million for the state, but only $3 million comes back to fix city streets. It doesn’t seem like a good deal for the city given the city has two years of deferred city street maintenance totaling $18 million.
What is the state doing with a $14million difference? Caltrans’ 201720 report includes promises to fix potholes and repair bridges and culverts but also includes reduction of transportationrelated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, implementation of complete street elements such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and enhancements to wildlife connectivity and fish passages.
Given that the state will not return enough money to make up for the city budget shortfall, here are two options the council should consider: increase city revenue without increasing taxes and reduce city service costs while maintaining quality.
Increase sales tax revenue by attracting outside money to the city. The planned downtown renovation making it a destination for residents and those outside the city should increase sales tax revenue—a good thing. Attract new companies with highpaid employees and entice existing companies to stay. Amgen’s decision to relocate or lay off or move 500 employees—not a good thing.
Reduce city budget costs by prioritizing city services and find the most costeffective way to spend taxpayer dollars in the delivery. More efficient spending is always preferred to maximize taxpayer dollars.
The state’s gas tax is another example of how government fixes problems: Tax, spend and regulate. We need other creative answers.