California's Gavin Newsom decides state's big, voter-approved gas tax won't be for repairing highways after all
Last November, Democrats hailed California voters' rejection of Proposition 6, a law to scrap the state's 2017 massive gas taxes. They crowed that Californians were glad to pay five bucks at the pump when the rest of the U.S. average was half that. Big reason? Because $3 billion of those takings would save the state's tumbledown highways and go to repair roads and bridges. The rejection came after a voters showed strong signs of wanting to get rid of the tax until a barrage of television ads ran, warning that any vote to repeal the gas tax would mean the state's decrepit highways and bridges would go wanting for repair funds:
A vote to repeal the gas tax would leave our highways wastelands! Highway apocalypse if this gas-tax repeal went through! Saving the whales became saving the highways, and as shriller and shriller ads ran, voter sentiment shifted, and the tax was voted to remain.
Here's a very good KUSI news video of what voters thought they were getting:
Welp. Turns out the tax wasn't about repairing roads and highways after all. On Sept. 20, in a little noted maneuver, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to divert the tax cash away from crumbling highway repair to greenie political pet projects instead. To heck with the highways; it was time to save the Earth. According to an Oct. 7 item from the California Globe:
Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-19-19 September 20, directing the already controversial gas tax money away from fixing local highways in favor of rail projects.
Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) recently explained that in the 2020 Transportation Plan are two projects that would have increased stretches of Highway 99 from four to six lanes in the Central Valley. Patterson says that a Cal Trans' report even notes the "bottleneck" created at these sections along this major freight corridor.
"Instead of building capacity on our highways to move people and freight, Governor Newsom is funding his pet rail projects throughout the state," Patterson said. "This theft of funds meant to improve our roadways is a glimpse into the future of transportation in our state and Newsom continues to execute his September 2019 Climate Change Executive Order. The Central Valley is just the beginning. Other road projects will likely be next."
"This is theft of our gas taxes by Executive Order. Governor Newsom is intentionally starving us out of our roads. Voters approved SB 1 with the promise that our crumbling highways would get the attention they deserve. Instead of building capacity, our gas tax funds are being siphoned off to fund Newsom's favored pet-projects," Patterson said. "Governor Newsom's promise not to forget about the Central Valley is full of hot air, just like his climate plan."
It goes to show just how dishonest the entire bid to save the gas tax was. It was never about repairing highways; that was a mere selling point to those boobs, the voters. These pols had other ideas, ones they knew they couldn't sell keeping the gas tax on, so they told voters they were voting to get one thing for their money, and then, when no one was looking, stole it for other purposes, the ones they really wanted. Net result: Five dollars a gallon at the pump and the privilege of driving on potholed and landslided highways that haven't been repaired in decades.
If this doesn't wake the blue-state voters up, what will?
Image credit: CalMatters, YouTube screen shot.