Back in 2003, California Governor Grey Davis was recalled by the voters of the once Golden State, in part, because of his successful effort to triple the car tax. One of the first actions of the new Governor was to sign the repeal of that tax increase.
Apparently, our current Governor, Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown is having a moment of fortuitous senility as he has apparently cut a deal to go after California motorists again in a new attempt to raise the gas tax 12 cents and increase the car tax by an average of more than $50 per vehicle.
Not satisfied with having the 5th highest gas tax in the United States (along with the highest income tax, sales tax, and near highest property taxes), Governor Moonbeam wants to make California Number 1 in gas taxes too.
Now, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need. California currently has the 7th worst road conditions in the country. This is in spite of the fact that California has the best weather in the country with no monsoons or freezing temperatures that inflict heavy damage in other, less hospitable states. No, California’s road infrastructure, along with everything else in the state other than its welfare system, is just falling apart due to the failure of California to provide even basic maintenance.
California, even with its ridiculously high taxes, can’t even take care of what it was blessed with by Jerry Brown’s father, Pat Brown, California’s Governor that built the state’s infrastructure into what was once the nations jewel.
California really doesn’t have any excuses. The state is not underfunded, and has notoriously diverted billions in annual gas and road taxes from road maintenance to the general fund for a decade. In addition, local governments have picked up the slack with sales tax increases and city and county general fund expenditures.
California has also diverted gas tax and other motorist based fees to high-minded, but little used transit projects such as buses, trains, bike lanes and other boondoggles that have failed to reduce freeway and road use as they promised. Cities like Los Angeles are even turning existing car lanes into bike lanes!
Governor Brown and the Democratic supermajority are hoping taxpayers won’t notice they already pay the highest gas prices in the country or that they are being jammed with hundreds of dollars in carbon fees every time they have to replace a catalytic convertor on their car. They hope commuters won’t notice that billions of dollars in weight fees paid by big-rig truck operators to offset damage to roads, freeways and bridges are being funneled into the state general fund in violation of voter approved propositions.
Perhaps Governor Moonbeam, who in his first term as Governor in the 1970’s cancelled dozens of freeway projects, is correct in assuming Californians are too stupid to know better or too busy to pay attention. Maybe the folks that used to pay attention have already moved to greener pastures in Texas or Idaho?
Regardless of whether Governor Brown can muster the 2/3rds vote to pull off a $5.2 billion annual tax increase, it is unlikely that California’s roads will actually be fixed. Does anyone really think that whoever follows in Jerry’s footsteps as our next Governor won’t raid those funds in the next budget crisis to prevent cuts to welfare recipients and a failing public education system? The next budget crisis is only a couple years away according to Brown’s own budget office?
The old saying still applies: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” What happens the fifth, sixth, or seventh time? Perhaps Californians will have the where-with-all to apply another phrase this time, “if it’s Brown, flush it.”