North state lawmakers were blasting the new state gas tax in the days and hours before it was scheduled to go effect at midnight on Nov. 1.
Senate Bill 1 is increasing the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon and diesel tax by 20 cents per gallon. It is also increasing vehicle license and registration fees.
The Bill’s stated goal is to raise $52 billion to improve transportation in the state.
The California State Department of Transportation says on its website that half that revenue will go towards “state-maintained transportation infrastructure,” and the “other half will go to local roads, transit agencies and an expansion of the state’s growing network of pedestrian and cycle routes.”
In a statement released about the tax increase Tuesday, Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle of Bieber said, “More and more people cannot afford to live here. This is essentially a tax increase on everything from a gallon of milk to a pair of running shoes. California industry runs on diesel and an extra 20 cents a gallon is going to have far-reaching effects on people’s jobs. Even worse, little of that money will actually go toward building new roads and fixing the problems we have.”
Dahle, who represents the 1st District that includes Siskiyou County, says Senate Bill 1 “mandates that less than five percent of funds can go to traffic relief or lane expansion, ignoring Californians in urban areas who spend nearly three days a year in unnecessary traffic and people in rural areas who have to drive upwards of 50 miles to get groceries or a prescription filled.”
He states, “We don’t need to raise taxes to fix our roads, California simply needs to take the vehicle weight fees that truckers like me already pay and put them towards roads as they were originally intended. In case after case, the money designated for roads has been stolen by the state and spent on other things. I voted against this tax because we are already taxed enough for transportation.”
Congressman Doug LaMalfa, State Senator Jim Nielsen and Assembly member James Gallagher joined citizens in a protest of the gas tax increase Monday in Chico.
“We have enough money to fix our roads without raising gas taxes,” said Nielsen (R-Tehama), Vice Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and Caucus Chairman. “The problem is that, for years, Democrats have systematically been diverting billions of dollars from transportation. They are doing the same thing with this new tax: millions are already being redirected to park maintenance and lifeguard recruitment programs instead of being used to fix our roads, bridges and highways.
“Californians already pay too much at the pump! Many of my constituents live in rural areas and won’t be able to afford this onerous gas and car tax.”
Gallagher (R-Yuba City) said, “State spending has increased by $39 billion since 2011. And not a dime of new revenues coming in have been spent on our roads. It’s a matter of priorities.”
Caltrans, on its Rebuilding California website, reports the following amounts of new gas tax revenue that will be spent for following purposes:
• Maintenance and Rehabilitation of the State Highway System: $1.8 billion
• New Funding to Transit Agencies to help them increase access and service and build capital projects: over $750 million
• Maintaining and Repairing the State’s Bridges and Culverts: $400 million
• Trade Corridor Enhancement Program: $300 million. Money from this new program will fund freight projects along important trade corridor routes.
• Repairs to Local Streets and Roads: $1.5 billion
• Solutions for Congested Corridors Program: $250 million. Money from this new program will go to projects from regional agencies and the state that will improve traffic flow and mobility along the state’s most congested routes while also seeking to improve air quality and health.
• Matching Funds for Local Agencies: $200 million. This money will go to local entities who are already making their own extra investment in transportation. These matching funds will support the efforts of cities and counties with voter-approved transportation tax measures.
• Local Planning Grants: $25 million. Addresses community needs by providing support for planning that may have previously lacked funding, good planning will increase the value of transportation investments.
• Bike and Pedestrian Projects: $100 million. This will go to cities, counties and regional transportation agencies to build or convert more bike paths, crosswalks and sidewalks. It is a significant increase in funding for these projects through the Active Transportation Program (ATP).
• Transportation-Related Research at state universities: $7 million. Research will help identify cost-effective materials and methods to improve the benefits of transportation investments.
• Freeway Service Patrol: $25 million. Assists stranded motorists on the most congested freeways to keep drivers moving during peak hours.
• Workforce Training Programs: $5 million. Every $1 billion spent on infrastructure projects creates more than 13,000 jobs, according to federal government estimates. California needs to ensure there is a ready workforce to carry out these transportation projects coming down the way.
Siskiyou County projects
The following projects in Siskiyou County are shown on Caltrans’ SB 1 Accelerated Project Map as being projects that were expedited “due to expected revenue from SB 1:
• $22.6 million project will replace the southbound bridge deck on Interstate 5 from Central Dunsmuir Undercrossing to north of Siskiyou Avenue Overcrossing at Sacramento River Bridge in Siskiyou County. Current status is pre-construction
• $39.2 million bridge project will revamp and improve the vertical clearance for trucks to improve freight movement on Interstate 5 at the Louie Road Overcrossing in Yreka, Moonlit Oaks Avenue Undercrossing, Miner Street Undercrossing and North Yreka Separation in Siskiyou County, and the State Route 273/I-5 Connector Overcrossing in the city of Redding in Shasta County. Current status is pre-construction.
• $135.8 million pavement preservation project will improve 25.4 lane miles on Interstate 5 from the Sacramento River Bridge in the city of Dunsmuir to Black Butte Overhead in Siskiyou County. Current status is pre-construction.