Californians pay some of the highest fuel taxes in the U.S., but our highways are among the nation’s worst. We are now about two months into a transportation special session called by Governor Brown. As expected, calls for increased taxes are echoing loudly in Sacramento.
In response, I have introduced AB X1 14, which would prioritize transportation spending as a formal part of the budgeting process. My bill would mandate $1 billion toward transportation infrastructure funding annually without raising taxes or fees, including $500 million for highway upgrades and $500 million for local streets and roads. By making our highway needs a budget priority, transportation will no longer provide an excuse for raising taxes. In fact, the Legislative Analyst’s office has shown that there is sufficient funding in the budget, even after Prop. 98 monies are allocated to schools.
AB X1 14 is part of a new, detailed 9-point Republican proposal to provide the funds necessary to fix our crumbling highways, without raising taxes. Our plan would increase transportation funding by $6.6 billion annually and generate 90,000 jobs. The proposals also include redirecting vehicle weight fees back to transportation projects, as originally intended, elimination of redundant Caltrans jobs and simplification of regulations governing highway building and maintenance.
Many of these realistic proposals were recommended by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, and have generated wide bi-partisan support in the past. With current estimates placing California’s deferred highway maintenance costs at about $59 billion, on top of billions more needed for local road repairs, transportation should be a priority, not a budget afterthought.
During the special session, I will be looking for cost-effective proposals to maintain and improve state highways, without adding to the excessive tax burden already imposed on California’s long-suffering drivers.