Our View: The high cost of fresh pavement

By Signal Editorial Board

Last update: Friday, April 14th, 2017

Call them bribes or back-room deals, there’s no doubt California’s governor tossed aside any appearance of thoughtful democratic process last week as he rammed through the Legislature a gasoline tax and diesel sales tax hike, along with fee hikes.

The package of tax hikes is due to raise $52 billion over the next 10 years for California roads – so the governor says.

The taxes, which will most directly hurt the working poor and middle-class commuters of the state, will hike the price of gasoline by 12 cents a gallon and increase diesel excise tax through a complicated formula, all effective effective Nov. 1.

A vehicle fee of $25 to $175, depending upon the value of the car, will be added to the cost of registration beginning Jan. 1, 2018. And a $100 fee on electric cars takes effect in 2020.

To secure a victory for the unpopular tax hike, Gov. Jerry Brown pledged transportation funds for different projects around the state, bribes awarded to legislators who held out against a “yes” vote late on April 6, a self-imposed deadline just ahead of the Legislature’s spring break.

The Los Angeles Times says a billion dollars in tax money was lavished on hold-outs as leaders – Brown, Senate leader Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramont – drove for two-thirds legislative approval, ensuring the bill wouldn’t be back to bite them when the public was paying more attention.

Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes called the bill, SB1, “a deal so bad (Democrats) needed $1 billion in pork to pass it.”

Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, came away with the most booty, winning $400 million from Brown and Company during a late negotiating session at the governor’s mansion the night before the crucial vote.

Those funds, written into the proposed state budget, would extend a commuter rail line from the Bay Area to Cannella’s Central Valley district.

Runner-up is Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, who for his vote gets a $100-million parkway to connect UC Merced to Highway 99.

And so on through the roster of votes until the governor could “buy” his two-thirds majority. Is the tax hike really needed with Californians paying $4.5 billion to $5 billion a year on fuel taxes? What’s happened to the money already set aside for road repair and construction?

Not the question. The question is what can your legislator get out of the governor. And for the most part, Republicans need not apply.

Many legislators turned their backs on responsible governing and let Brown play them against each other for the biggest toys, tossing aside all consideration of responsible financing like children at a carnival.

Sen. Scott Wilk points out in a Signal column published Friday that there’s no guarantee the money will even go to roads; efforts to write that assurance into the bill were rebuffed.

And the beat goes on in our supermajority state.

 

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Our View: The high cost of fresh pavement

Call them bribes or back-room deals, there’s no doubt California’s governor tossed aside any appearance of thoughtful democratic process last week as he rammed through the Legislature a gasoline tax and diesel sales tax hike, along with fee hikes.

The package of tax hikes is due to raise $52 billion over the next 10 years for California roads – so the governor says.

The taxes, which will most directly hurt the working poor and middle-class commuters of the state, will hike the price of gasoline by 12 cents a gallon and increase diesel excise tax through a complicated formula, all effective effective Nov. 1.

A vehicle fee of $25 to $175, depending upon the value of the car, will be added to the cost of registration beginning Jan. 1, 2018. And a $100 fee on electric cars takes effect in 2020.

To secure a victory for the unpopular tax hike, Gov. Jerry Brown pledged transportation funds for different projects around the state, bribes awarded to legislators who held out against a “yes” vote late on April 6, a self-imposed deadline just ahead of the Legislature’s spring break.

The Los Angeles Times says a billion dollars in tax money was lavished on hold-outs as leaders – Brown, Senate leader Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramont – drove for two-thirds legislative approval, ensuring the bill wouldn’t be back to bite them when the public was paying more attention.

Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes called the bill, SB1, “a deal so bad (Democrats) needed $1 billion in pork to pass it.”

Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, came away with the most booty, winning $400 million from Brown and Company during a late negotiating session at the governor’s mansion the night before the crucial vote.

Those funds, written into the proposed state budget, would extend a commuter rail line from the Bay Area to Cannella’s Central Valley district.

Runner-up is Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, who for his vote gets a $100-million parkway to connect UC Merced to Highway 99.

And so on through the roster of votes until the governor could “buy” his two-thirds majority. Is the tax hike really needed with Californians paying $4.5 billion to $5 billion a year on fuel taxes? What’s happened to the money already set aside for road repair and construction?

Not the question. The question is what can your legislator get out of the governor. And for the most part, Republicans need not apply.

Many legislators turned their backs on responsible governing and let Brown play them against each other for the biggest toys, tossing aside all consideration of responsible financing like children at a carnival.

Sen. Scott Wilk points out in a Signal column published Friday that there’s no guarantee the money will even go to roads; efforts to write that assurance into the bill were rebuffed.

And the beat goes on in our supermajority state.

 

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Signal Editorial Board

Signal Editorial Board

  • Ron Bischof

    “And the beat goes on in our supermajority state.”

    This is the crux of the issue. When there’s no balance/separation of power, bad governance and self-dealing is the result.

    When will CA voters figure this out?

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H. L. Mencken

    • tka2013

      Just curious, what’s your viewpoint if in your line “(w)hen will CA voters figure this out,” you changed out “CA” for “U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and the Presidency”? As a political independent I’m not looking to make an ad hominem attack but when typically I see these statements generally made what I usually see is people are fine with their party or viewpoint (liberals vs. conservatives of course) in domination but outraged when practiced by the opposite side. Thanks

      • Ron Bischof

        I had considered my logic on this prior to posting and it remains sound because the supermajority status of CA hasn’t a correlation in the Federal government. Instead, the current Congress represents a simple majority.

        For examples of retention of political power, the uniform opposition of Democrats recently blocked the repeal of PPACA. The same party was largely uniform in a filibuster of a SCOTUS nominee vote, forcing a change in Senate precedent to confirm Justice Gorsuch.

        I too am an independent, “Decline To State” in CA parlance. My political philosophy can be summarized as that of liberty and advocacy of a Constitutional Federal government bounded by enumerated powers. Because my positions are based on principle rather than tribal affinity, it doesn’t exhibit the hypocrisy you noted.

        • tka2013

          Didn’t see hypocrisy in your answer nor pointing it out, I just want to hear someone else’s thought process but I don’t think your point fully holds water in least two areas. And I’ll put my card on the table of being a slightly left of center leaning independent rather than a decline-to-state.

          First supermajorities are generally rare so is a narrow interpretation of power which leads to the second point, without party unity or capability to compromise to achieve progress it doesn’t matter if it’s a majority or supermajority. As noted previously the GOP controls the levers of power at the Federal legislative and executive levels and yet could not put their political differences aside long enough to enact the long stated goal of dismantling the ACA. That was one of Reagan’s great gifts where he knew when to take and when to ease back, stating that if you can’t get 100% of your goal now take what you can for now and come back for the rest later.

          The Republicans don’t have that kind of leader right now in the White House or but California does in Jerry Brown. Love him or hate him he is often the “adult in the room” when compared to the Democratic supermajority which is full of more disparate elements than you might suspect. One could question how much is Brown’s experience or his leadership over the Dems or if the party’s own leadership understands the need for internal compromise to achieve the higher was fully displayed on the recent infrastructure bill. Deals were made, compromises met and the bill went through. That’s leadership. The real problem for the Republicans in Cali is they need to move on from being the party of “no” and offer a real alternative vision to the Democrats, hope they can achieve that.

          I fully disagree with your conclusion that the Democrats “blocked” the ACA vote. Effectively their majority participation compromised and passed a federal law seven years ago based on a Republican governor’s plan with a liberal state legislation without Republican participation in the final voice. Stripped down to the essential elements their position effectively is, “we already voted and passed a law and you abstained from the debate.” They achieved their goal and I can’t blame them on this one. Had the Republicans found internal compromise they might have found some Democrat support among the four right wing Senators but with only 17% of the public supporting a full repeal of the ACA, good luck with that one. Thanks for the civil discussion.

          • Ron Bischof

            I had already discerned you were left of center when you initially posted and your last post confirmed such. 😀

            The supermajority point is salient and your argument underscores it rather than minimizes it. As you noted, Democrats were able to pass PPACA without a single Republican vote via the parliamentary maneuver of reconciliation. Massachusetts’s legislation at the state level doesn’t constitute Republican participation in Congress. There was no “leadership” or “compromise” exhibited so PPACA wasn’t passed or repealed in the bipartisan manner that all previous major social legislation has been historically. Additionally, your poll summation excludes a significant point, i.e. the majority of citizens support repeal *and* replacement/fix of PPACA. They do not support retention as is passed by the Democratic majority/Administration and regulatory implementation by HHS.

            http://kff.org/interactive/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-the-publics-views-on-the-aca/#?response=Favorable–Unfavorable&aRange=twoYear

            Unlike the current Congress, the supermajority in the CA legislature can pass whatever they wish without participation or restraint by the minority party. In addition, the Democratic majority holds all the statewide elected offices as well. That Gov. Brown acts as a minor restraint on this de facto single party state is a very low bar indeed. Counter example: Brown signing “gun control” legislation in 2016 that he had previously vetoed. This after indicating there’s no demonstrated efficacy in reduction of criminal activity in his accompanying veto statements.

            In conclusion, I don’t find your argument of Federal equivalency a compelling rebuttal to the Signal Editorial or my posts.

            I enjoyed the civil discussion as well.

          • tka2013

            Noted the Kaiser polls but it as well most general polls including this tended to tick upward in favor generally of ACA as the vote drew nearer.

            One last question, a thought experiment actually: if the supermajority were held by the Republicans would your view of it be exactly the same?

          • Ron Bischof

            Mostly due to media FUD. The Kaiser polls have been accurate and consistent over the last 8 years.

            Here’s another baseline prior to the election:

            http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/repeal_of_health_care_law_favoroppose-1947.html

            I have professional experience in the insurance industry and PPACA is actuarily unsound and would implode without massive taxpayer subsidies.

            You seem to repeat your question/”thought experiment” here. Please refer to my original post that detailed my principles.

            Principled people don’t practice situational ethics that are based on whose tribe is up or down. That’s the mark of partisan hacks that lack intellectual honesty.

            Do I make myself crystal clear?

  • Joan Beck

    It is a certainty that the CA state government is totally self-absorbed and out-of-control when they spend more money bribing each other to pass the bill than the resulting road tax increases will ultimately raise! If I may be so bold as to ask – what exactly did they accomplish?

    If this results in an angry constituency that finally sees what is going on it might be worth it,but I fear this will just be one more bad decision in a long-running line of bad decisions that Sacramento continues to make because voters do nothing to stop them. None of this is news to those paying taxes or attention! I wonder when the rest of the voters will wake up?