While the U.S. Federal Government contemplates supplementing the Highway Trust Fund from the general fund, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes raiding the state gas tax to pay into the general state budget. This move would take $750 million from local transportation budgets statewide each year.
For cities that rely heavily on state funds to repair their roads, the possibility is jarring.
"Devastating," said Carole Dawson, a civil engineer with the city of Seaside.
"This is crazy," said Mark Dettle, director of Santa Cruz's Department of Public Works.
"Catastrophic," said Chris Augenstein, a road planner with the Valley Transportation Authority.
California roads already rate as the most dilapidated in the nation, with more than two-thirds in poor to mediocre condition, according to a recent national report. The San Jose area has the second-worst roads in the nation, with 90 percent of its pavement rated poor to mediocre. Potholes in 11 California cities cost drivers more than $700 annually in car repairs, about $150 higher than the national average.
Transportation leaders almost all agree that it's time to raise the state's 18-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax, which hasn't increased since 1994.
Stallion: And yet, gas prices in NY are a good 20 cents cheaper than in California, where the state gas tax is 18 cents. In North Carolina -- where consumers pay 27 cents per gallon to the state -- gasoline is cheaper yet.
The price of gas is a function of supply and demand. A tax reduces supply to some degree, but mostly it reduces the (very substantial) profits to the oil companies and (theoretically) spreads the benefit around to the public.
instead of raiding the gas tax, California should be raising it. No time like now. Instead, at a time where public transit ridership is at an all time high, auto companies facing bankruptcy, people beginning to wean themselves away from their cars, the State is going great lengths to destroy public transit.