The Senate Bill 1 gas tax increase promised to fix our crumbling highways and roads. That promise was short-lived.
Last month, Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order redirecting the state’s $5 billion annual transportation funds from highway/road repairs toward reducing congestion via “strategies designed to encourage people to shift from cars to other modes of transportation” including mass transit, walking and biking, the governor’s executive order said. The order also calls for $61 million to be “held in reserve for priority rail projects.” Read more here: bit.ly/2MCu0QM
This is in addition to the billions of dollars which have continued to be diverted from the transportation fund since 2010 – no wonder our traffic congestion is as bad as it is! If the funds collected to upgrade our roadways had been used for that purpose, we would not need to keep increasing taxes. In fact, we would have more than enough.
The SB1 gas tax did not plan to add one freeway mile to reduce congestion, but it did commit to repair our local roads and highways, and support parks and boats. Now, even that is uncertain thanks to the Governor’s Executive Order.
Mass transit systems should be expanded, but not at the expense of highways that serve the vast majority of travelers. In our own region, over 95% of the people use our highways, but in recent years, two-thirds of local transportation spending has gone to mass transit projects which are used by less than 5% of the population.
For decades to come, Californians will continue to rely on the state’s highway system to keep people, products and produce flowing. Our way of life and economic well-being depend on a well-maintained highway system. Promises made to voters must be promises kept.