Our View | As You Pay at the Pump, Newsom Pulls Bait, Switch

By The Signal Editorial Board

Next time you’re filling up at the pump, and you’re lamenting the price of each gallon of gasoline, only to venture out onto a failing, inadequate system of California roads, bridges and highways, here’s who you can thank:

Gov. Gavin Newsom and the tax-happy California Legislature’s Democratic supermajority.

California’s governor has pulled a classic bait-and-switch on the state’s taxpayers, signing an executive order that allows him to redirect transportation funds to his pet projects, including public transportation and efforts to address climate change.

Those funds, per the voter-approved Senate Bill 1, were supposed to be in a bulletproof lockbox to repair and upgrade California’s crumbling roads, bridges and highway system.

That additional 12 cents per gallon, plus the added transportation improvement fees you pay based on the value of a vehicle, have contributed to California having the highest gas prices in the nation, and among the highest gas taxes.

The new gas tax was the linchpin of what was ostensibly a 10-year, $52-billion plan to improve California’s roads and highways.

Voters had an opportunity in the 2018 election to ditch the added gas taxes and repeal SB1 by approving Proposition 6, but thanks to a deceiving ballot measure description written by Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the measure wasn’t presented for what it was: a repeal of the gas tax. 

Instead, the title read, “Eliminates Recently Enacted Road Repair and Transportation Funding by Repealing Revenues Dedicated for those Purposes.” 

Proposition 6 failed.

Fast forward to this year, and Gov. Newsom has his hands in the road repair cookie jar, as many observers predicted. 

You remember the refrain: Yes, they’re promising these funds will be dedicated to improving roads and highways, but how long will it be before they break that promise?

Answer: About a year. 

Newsom signed an executive order in September allowing him to redirect the transportation funding — the money from your gas taxes — to programs designed to address climate change.

Do you recall voting for a ballot initiative imposing a 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax to “address climate change”? Of course not. The ballot initiative called for the funds to go toward maintenance, construction and operation of the roads, bridges and highways. It amounts to $5 billion a year, supposedly. 

Now, because Newsom wants you out of your car, he’s given himself the authority to steal those funds to pay for his pet projects to reduce congestion using “innovative strategies designed to encourage people to shift from cars to other modes of transportation,” including mass transit (read: pet rail projects), biking and walking, according to the executive order. 

It amounts to a rip-off of every taxpayer and motorist in California, and you’re paying for that rip-off every time you fill up. Hopefully, California voters will learn from this hard lesson and send the Sacramento supermajority a stern message in the 2020 election.

They haven’t earned our trust. They say one thing, then do another, defining hypocrisy along the way —  “lockboxes” be damned.  

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