October 4, 2019
By Assemblyman Vince Fong
There is a Sacramento trend: promise taxpayers something in exchange for an increase in taxes and then raid that money later for unrelated projects. Unfortunately for California taxpayers, Governor Newsom is continuing that practice with his latest scheme to divert your gas tax dollars.
Recently, Governor Newsom announced he would use his executive power to divert $5 billion of road maintenance funds (generated from the gas tax you currently play) to pay for projects that do not fix our roads. Specifically the Governor diverted billions from road maintenance projects to bike lanes and pedestrian projects.
California has the highest gas taxes in the nation and drivers are feeling it at the pump. Just this past July, your gas tax increased another 5.6 cents per gallon. In total, drivers in our state pay upwards of $80 cents more per gallon, yet drivers sit in the worst traffic congestion in the nation and drive on roads that are in dire need of maintenance and fixing. With every gas tax increase comes the empty promise that the money will be directed to fixing our neglected roads. Our streets and highways continue to crumble while politicians play a shell game with the money that is supposed to fix them.
To add insult to injury, Sacramento Democrats continue to complain they still do not have enough funds to fix the problems at hand. One lawmaker even went so far as to express the need for more road maintenance money during the most recent gas tax increase in July. If our current road maintenance fund isn’t high enough, why are Democrats taking that money to pay for unrelated projects?
We want the streets in our towns and neighborhoods fixed, potholes filled and extra lanes built to relieve traffic congestion. Instead, our money is going toward an agenda that punishes driving, worsens traffic congestion and ultimately hurts people who do not live in big, wealthy cities with easy access to public transit. In fact, as part of the gas tax increase that passed a couple years ago, the legislation required millions of gas tax dollars to be spent on reducing the number of lanes, which punishes everyone.
Sacramento continues to worsen the affordability crisis that is driving people out of this state — high gas prices is a big contributor. But Sacramento continues to be tone deaf — this year alone, Sacramento lawmakers introduced an additional $20 billion in additional taxes and fees, yet taxpayers are not seeing the benefit.
We need more honesty in Sacramento — we need to actually use our gas tax dollars for fixing our roads and addressing traffic congestion. This diversion of tax dollars is an unacceptable practice that will only continue to erode the public’s trust of their government representatives.