Housing and Workforce Development
As we close out 2018 and look forward to 2019, we have survived the fires, beat back the attempt to repeal SB1, and have a whole slew of very progressive new electeds taking office in California, and in our local areas. It seems as if a “Progressive Wave” of ballots came in and created some changes that some will applaud, and some will fear as we await the new Governor Newsom agenda. From the ECA’s perspective, I will try to keep you all tuned in to many of the subcategories that will affect your businesses in the future (like safety, disaster preparedness and the opportunities presented to ECA members regarding doing emergency work, air quality, storm water regs, permitting issues for grading and building, funding for road repairs, infrastructure upgrades, etc. etc. The one thing that is not much of an issue, is the dollars that will be supplying our roadwork for the foreseeable future. We have dollars coming in from Regional Measure 3 and Senate Bill 1 and we will be on the last few years of the Measure M funding that helped widen Highway 101 to this point. There will be discussion regarding the extension and modification of Measure M soon, but that is for another Newsletter.
One thing is becoming very clear locally-we cannot separate our housing crisis from our workforce development crisis. In my humble opinion, housing and workforce development have become the topics of most importance to ECA Membership. In attending the various workshops and meetings I go to, I continue to hear stories about bigger companies not being able to retain their employees due to the high cost of housing, or the short supply of housing, or both. When we find our main companies having trouble retaining employees, much less attracting new employees to come and work in this area, we have a real crisis on our hands. We kind of knew that prior to the fires of 2017, and those fires destroying some 5,300 homes only brought the problems into sharper focus for us.
When we talk about workforce development, we all know what that means. Companies like yours have to infuse their workforce with young and talented workers that will eventually replace the baby boomers who are aging. When your firm is signatory to the various trade unions, the problem is slightly less than the problem that faces those companies that do not have a ready-made list of potential workers to come in when you hit that big project. Even those firms that are signatory need to keep hiring office and professional staff that are not going to be supplied by the labor organizations. In order to retain what you have, and attract what you need, companies have to really look hard at themselves to recognize how their firm is a standout from the other firms that are all seeking the same talent pool of young people to keep sustaining their operation. In the coming months, I think we need to be looking at some workshops that do just that-help firms evaluate their core culture and how young “prospects” view those core cultures as a possible career choice.
Along with a company’s core culture, comes the decisions by young people and young families as to the economics of living in Sonoma County, Marin County, Napa County or Solano County and working where they live. Many will opt to live in less expensive Lake or Mendo Counties and commute in to work. Quality of life issues then arise for that worker as the commute is wearing on a young father or mother. Their decision might be quite different if relatively affordable housing existed for them in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano Counties. That is why I link the two issues together and they can hardly be separated.
To develop or even retain your workforce, those folks need a place to live. I believe it is our task at the ECA to become even more involved in both of those areas of interest, and support or lead as best we can, our members to a better solution than exists in 2018.
We will be holding our Strategic Planning Meeting to set our path for the next year on January 15 with our new President Kevin Ghilotti and our new Board of Directors. I (and they), welcome any feedback you might have as to what you think the relevant issues are that we should be focused on in 2019 moving forward. Please send me or Kevin and email or pick up the phone and let us know what is important to you. After all, this is simply one man’s opinion that housing and workforce development should be front and center for the ECA firms. This is your organization-we are only here on your behalf.
Let us know so we can have a spirited discussion on January 15. Please.
That’s All Folks
Now that the elections are over (almost-several races too close to call, including the City of SR 4th District between Fleming and Beattie), I get to write about other things than politics.
Traffic and Roads:
On Tuesday, at the ECA’s Annual General Membership Meeting being held at Epicenter on Coffey Lane, 12-1:30pm, we will have the Director of Transportation and Roads for the County of Sonoma, Johannes Hoevertsz, discussing the future of Sonoma County’s 1384 miles of roads. I would imagine this presentation will be specific as to what roads will be addressed first and when. Following Johannes’s presentation, we will hear from Jason Nutt, the Director of Transportation and Public Works for the City of Santa Rosa. Jason will also talk specifically about what we can expect with the funding streams in place as we move forward from our devastating fires of last year and the uncertainty of funding due to the Prop 6 effort to do away with SB1 taxes. This should be a very informative presentation and I hope you all can join us. Also, keep in mind, at the Annual GMM, the one-time members get to vote is on Tuesday as Members vote on the 2019 Board of Directors.
Highway 37 Update:
Although the Highway 37 process has taken a lot of time (I started attending meetings on the future of Hwy 37 eight years ago!), the State Route 37 Policy Committee (consisting of MTC and Caltrans as well as Sonoma, Marin, Solano, and Napa County and their respective Transportation Authorities) is getting quite close to “action”. I attended the meeting in Vallejo on Thursday, 11-8-18, and was able to see a vote to spend some of the first real funding from RM3 (the bridge toll hike) for Planning and Design of some important upcoming projects. Suzanne Smith of Sonoma County Transportation Authority prepared and got approved the following spending plan:
Solano Transportation Authority-$15 million for the Segment C-Fairgrounds Interchange improvements
Sonoma County Transportation Authority-$20 million for the Interim Segment B PAED and PS&E work for Highway 37 (Segment B is the stretch from Highway 121 to Mare Island)
Sonoma County Transportation Authority-$4 million for the PAED for Highway 37/121 Intersection Improvements
Transportation Authority of Marin-$3 million for Segments A1 and A2 Levee Study on Hwy 37
Sonoma County Transportation Authority and Transportation Authority of Marin jointly-$58 million for Segments A & B Improvements for Hwy 37
This is a huge step forward. If you recall, when MTC Regional Measure 3 was passed, it had allocated some $100 million for studies and design work to fix Highway 37. This action taken on 11-8-18 is the first allocation of funding from those RM3 dollars. Things will not move “quickly” in Contractor time now, but they will move forward with the needed design for both an interim fix (construction estimated to start in 2022) to the most congested 10 mile segment (from Sonoma Raceway to Mare Island) and also work on design and studies to do the ultimate fix to Highway 37 moving forward over the next 25 years.
The Committee also heard reports on the considered interim approach to the 10 mile Segment B (from Sonoma Raceway to Mare Island) which is construction of a 3rd lane and a movable barrier that would allow 2 lanes heading west in the morning commute, then the movable barrier would switch in late morning so there would be 2 lanes heading east in the afternoon commute. This interim fix is estimated to cut 80 of the 100 minutes out of a typical commuter’s drive time on Hwy 37.
I would be remiss if I did not talk briefly about how complex this Hwy 37 “solution” is. No less than 5 different alignments have had to be studied and vetted in order to determine the best route and the best way to design the final roadway. To refresh your memories, not only is the commute from Mare island to Hwy 121 (the 10 mile stretch referred to as Segment B) a 2-lane nightmare for traffic congestion, but the presumed sea level rise anticipated to be some 55” over the next 40-50 years puts large segments of the existing road under water. Private land is farmed on either side of Hwy 37 and levees are maintained by a wide variety of folks including the Sonoma Land Trust, private owners, Marin County, Sonoma County, and Caltrans. The five different alignment studied were:
- The existing alignment-just raise the road with fill and widen the road. Estimated cost $2.4 Billion
- The existing alignment-parts get raised, and part would be built as a causeway or bridge. Estimated cost $2.9Billion
- Move existing road to the North along the railroad tracks which would be a circuitous route but would bypass (inland) much of the sea level problems. Estimated cost $3.3 Billion
- Move the alignment to along the San Pablo Shoreline and build it as a causeway the whole way. Estimated cost $2.9 Billion
- Finally, move the alignment into San Pablo Bay, a direct line from San Rafael to Mare Island that would all be a causeway. Estimated cost $3.3 Billion.
Although a formal decision has not yet been made on the 5 alternatives, there was a motion to not spend any more money considering the Northern Alignment (#3 above). I would guess the preferred solution will be #1 or #2 above as they each would involve procuring less acreage than the other alternatives considered.
There was also a study presented on who the commuters were. This was very interesting, and I am not going to waste your time going over it, but the detail was impressive, and the bottom line is that commuters start and end in diverse locations which will make it very difficult to provide public transit that would work for the bulk of the commuters. The idea considered was to understand the commuter trips, so dollars would not be spent unnecessarily to try and publicly move these drivers if not feasible.
It may have taken a few years to get here, but this group deserves accolades for working together amongst themselves and also with the various environmental stakeholders along Hwy 37. Everyone seems to be getting along and the Chairperson of the Committee is none other than David Rabbitt from Petaluma-a staunch friend to the ECA.
If anybody is interested in looking at the staff reports and consultant reports that went into this or other meetings on Hwy 37, contact me please.
That is all for now-next week I can start writing some more opinionated columns as we move towards the end of 2018.
That’s All Folks
I promise I will do good things for my family
I promise I will treat my employees well
I promise I will give back to my Community
I promise to Vote-
That’s It! I knew I had a final reminder to send out. Tomorrow is November 6, 2018. We need to do the following: urge our kids to vote, urge our wives/hubbies to vote, make sure our employees have time and are urged to vote, and make sure we vote to best benefit our community!
With that reminder out of the way, this is the last time (I promise) I will remind everyone who and what the ECA has endorsed for tomorrow:
ECA Endorses a No on Prop 6 Position
No other endorsements for State Propositions
ECA does not endorse any other State candidates
City of Santa Rosa Measures:
ECA Endorses a Yes on Measure N
ECA does not endorse any other City of Santa Rosa Measures
City and Town Council Races:
Cloverdale: ECA Endorses Gus Woltor (incumbent), Jason Turner and Marta Cruz for City Council
Cotati: ECA Endorses Mark Landman (Incumbent) for City Council
Healdsburg: ECA Endorses Evelyn Mitchell for City Council
Petaluma: ECA Endorses Mike Harris for Mayor and ECA Endorses David King (Incumbent), Michael Regan, and Kevin McDonnell for City Council
Rohnert Park: ECA Endorses Pam Stafford (Incumbent), and Susan Adams for City Council
Santa Rosa: ECA Endorses Tom Schwedhelm (Incumbent) (District 6), John Sawyer (Incumbent) (District 2), Dorothy Beattie (District 4) for City Council
Sebastopol: ECA Endorses Patrick Slayter (Incumbent), and Una Glass (Incumbent) for City Council
Sonoma: ECA has no endorsements
Windsor: ECA Endorses Dominic Foppoli (Incumbent), Mark Millan (Incumbent), and Ester Lemus for Town Council.
Marin County Supervisor:
ECA Endorses Damon Connally
Santa Rosa Junior College Trustees:
ECA Endorses Jeff Kunde for Trustee
That’s All Folks!
I promise to write something more interesting after November 6!!!
Public Policy Institute Latest Polling
Are you sick of polling yet? One of the most highly respected and accurate (traditionally) polling groups just came out with the results of many of the State Measures that could affect our ECA members dramatically. In the interest of “knowledge is power”, I am providing the polling information to you with some “editorializing” liberty as this is an opinion piece!
From the San Jose Mercury News, there is “breaking news” on several of the “big-issues” on the State Ballot:
- Gavin Newsom vs Cox-Newsom holds an 11-point lead over Cox with only 2 weeks to go. This does not look good for anybody in the State concerned about the cost of providing health care to everybody in the State, regardless of whether they are here legally or illegally. Gavin has come out in the past touting health care for all even at the cost of $10,000 additional for all State taxpayers. Watch for increases in business taxes to pay for Newsom’s generous efforts.
- Dianne Feinstein is 16 points ahead of Kevin de Leon. At 85 years old, Feinstein is the oldest Senator. Folks obviously do not care about her husband’s real estate company being handed a multi billion “no-bid” contract to sell off post office real estate lands and buildings. I guess nobody cares because it is obvious that the decision to give her hubby the biz was totally fair under Obama’s watch. Right—
- Prop 6 shows 41% favoring, and 48% opposing the repeal of the 12 cents per gallon fuel tax which was passed by the Legislator in June of 2017. With 11% listed as “undecided”, there is still cause for hope or concern depending on your perspective. I would point folks in the direction of acknowledging the projects that are being funded by those tax dollars and what good will come from those projects in relieving traffic congestion, improving safety of our roads and bridges, and the employment of local workers that continue to fuel the economy. With Prop 69 passed that prevents the State from diverting our tax dollars, this is about the best bet we can ever hope for for a fair user tax to fix roads and bridges.
- Rent Control-Prop 10 is the biggest mover in the latest polling-36% favor it, while 60% oppose it. In my humble opinion the repeal of Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995 (which prohibits California cities from limiting how much landlords can charge for rent for units built after 1995, failing to pass is a good thing for our economy and our industry. Prop 10 is an ill-advised attempt at social engineering that the voters seem too smart to have rammed down their throats. Hope the results hold!
This latest poll asked 1704 Californians by both land and mobile phone calls, in both English and in Spanish, how they would vote. The sampling error is plus or minus 3.3%. To access the article, click here.
To access an op-ed piece about the polling by Dan Walters, click here.
That’s All Folks
In Santa Rosa, Dorothy Beattie would make a great City Council person. Please support Dorothy if you live in the Fountain Grove, Chanate, Montecito Hts areas.
For SRJC Trustee, Jeff Kunde is really running hard and Is the ECA choice for your vote.
In Santa Rosa, despite the opposition from Jack Buckhorn and Greg Sarris from the Graton Federaton Tribe, Measure N would do a lot of good for housing without costing too much. ECA recommends a Yes Vote on Meaure N
Mike Harris for Mayor of Petaluma. He is a good friend of business and construction.
ECA also Endorses David King (Incumbent), Michael Regan, and Kevin McDonnell for City Council.
I have been working closely with political campaigns and candidates since 2003. Fifteen years now. Wow. I have never seen a more dangerous set of decisions put before the
voters regarding the ECA and its membership. I will include, after this Soapbox, a list of our ECA Endorsed candidates and issues, but this Soapbox is about much more than just endorsing.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber Advocacy Endorsed Candidate Forum. There was another event in Petaluma that I wanted to attend but could not be in two places at once. At the event last night, the crowd got to hear from many of the endorsed candidates (endorsed by the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber). We heard from State Assemblyman Jim Wood, SR City Council Candidates Tom Schwedhelm/John Sawyer/Dorothy Beattie, and SRJC Trustee Candidate Jeff Kunde. Peter Rumble did a fine job hosting the event. I bring this info to you to illustrate a point. We can all show up, we can generously write a check to support our candidates and issues, and we can vote for those candidates and issues. But something Jim Wood said, and Tom Schwedhelm elaborated on, really hit home:
WE HAVE TO INFLUENCE OTHERS
The stakes could not be higher. Let’s just talk about Prop 6. Supporters of Prop 6 are taking language from the ballot measure and twisting it into their own B.S. I constantly read on social media the following arguments in favor of those supporting Prop 6:
Now, I can continue, and I will, going on social media sites and responding to each and every one of these claims with real facts. But I need your help. As an ECA Member help me out on the social media sites. Share the No on 6 Posts, comment, or like the post. People, you must understand the significance of Prop 6 passing. If it passes, there will be $3.7 Billion removed from our project “oxygen supply” in the next 10 years in the Bay Area alone. When you take that much away from the big guys bidding that work, where do you think they will go to get work? That’s right-they will come right down into your smaller jobs that you have been making bank on while they have been busy on the big stuff. The entire market will compress and all the companies that rely on that $3.7 Billion will not only not grow, they will shrink. Go talk to your owners and see what your future salary track looks like if the market share shrinks, rather than just stays the same. This Prop 6 will affect every one of you in the ECA.
So, Jim Wood and Tom Schwedhelm last night talked about how dire the situation will be should Prop 6 fail and should good business candidates like John Sawyer for SR Council, Dorothy Beattie for SR Council, Jim Wood for State Asse
mbly, Mike Harris for Petaluma Mayor, etc., etc. not win. If Prop 6 alone is passed, the Counties and Cities in the North Bay Area will be impacted to such a degree we will see very little spent on roads and bridges because they will not be able to keep up with the backlog that 35 years of underfunding those needs have created. When you cannot maintain roads, and water degrades the subgrade, the maintenance costs go because it soon becomes a reconstruct, rather than a maintenance item. Voting for Prop 6 will ruin all the gains we have made in the last 5-7 years.
So here we are. The ECA has donated monies from our PAC. Individual companies have written big checks to oppose Prop 6. We need help from everyone! I can go out there and advocate to oppose Prop 6 but I need your help!
What is needed, is that our members need to go to the No on Prop 6 link below, and understand the Myths vs Facts, and start engaging in influencing people one at a time. We need every vote to count against this catastrophe called Prop 6. Go on social media, respond to those myths I listed above and share the posts (and believe you me you will see those comments over and over again). Talk to your workers, your suppliers and vendors and subcontractors. Talk to your neighbors & your family. Put up a sign, we have some in our office. Write another check to the No on 6 campaign so they can continue their ads on TV past next week. INFLUENCE PEOPLE.
The safety of our roads depends on you. Our local work force depends on you. Because of the generosity of our members giving back to the community, our community depends on you.
Please-DO MORE! Influence Someone Today!
That’s All Folks-
To get the list of currently scheduled local Bay Area Region projects that would be affected or taken away by the passage of Prop 6, go to this link:
The ECA endorses the following candidates and Ballot Measures. link Please Influence People to see the benefit of what we are endorsing!
Top Things You Can Do to Help Defeat Prop 6 Here are the most important things you can do today to help defeat Prop 6:
- ✓ Reach out to your employees: Download a templateletter you can easily edit and distribute to your employees through a company bulletin or direct letter. Click here for a Spanish translated copy. It is imperative that we educate our own employees and peers about the threat of Prop 6.
- ✓ Share the Facts: Share the No on Prop 6 Fact Sheet, Myth vs. Facts, and the list of projects at risk at the local levels. Make sure your employees, friends and family know what’s at risk.
- ✓ Use your signature line: Copy and paste the campaign logo to your email signature and ask your employees to do the same. This is an easy way to help spread the message multiple times a day to people in your networks.
- ✓ Order Campaign Materials: Campaign material such as bumper stickers, hard hat stickers and more are available upon request. Contact Gustavo Flores, Grassroots Coordinator to request these items for your equipment. Construction trucks and equipment are seen my hundreds of thousands of people up and down the state every day!
- ✓ Utilize certain jobsites: If you have a high-profile project that is a private works project and would like to hang a banner from an office window or highly visible piece of equipment please contact Gustavo Flores.
- ✓ Donate to the campaign: Make a contribution to the campaign and ask your peers to do the same. We can’t afford to look back and wish we had done more. (contribution form and important reporting info attached.)
- ✓ Talk to your field crew! Use 5-10 minutes during an organized safety meeting to talk to your employees in the filed about the importance of opposing Prop 6. UCON can assist you!
- ✓ Visit NoProp6.com to officially join the campaign, receive campaign updates and help spread the message.
- ✓ Utilize Social Media: Follow the campaign on Twitter and “like” us on Facebook and share the info on your own pages: https://twitter.com/noprop6 and https://www.facebook.com/NoProp6/.
- ✓ Utilize Linkedin: Share articles on your Linkedin Page about the need to defeat Prop 6. You can share UCON articles or official campaign bulletins. Help educate voters in your network!
Housing Is Not Quite That Simple
As I have commented before, during the course of interviewing candidates for City Council races in all the Sonoma County cities in August, the #1 priority in virtually every candidate’s questionnaire, was concern over housing and the lack therein. We all know that we had a housing problem (more demand than supply) before we lost 5,300 plus houses in the October fires. We all know that “Yours Truly” has been a very vocal advocate for building housing for many years. What you might not have known is some aspects I am going to talk about in this editorial comment.
Businesses are losing workers due to a lack of housing. Some of you might not believe that, but it is true. Some major employers in the Northern Bay Area are extremely worried about their core work force needs being able to be met for several reasons:
- Educational institutions are not turning out “job ready” employees for these companies. The graduates are not ready to go to work and be employed.
- Businesses are finding they have to raise wages to attract workers to live in our area, and that leads to “across the board” increases in wages to keep parity. How do businesses intend to pay for that? Raise the price of the service or goods they produce to the consumer. We pay!
- Housing is so tight, many employees of companies that have other sites, are opting out of this area. They are telling their employer “I think Colorado is better for me and my family, so I will take the transfer to Colorado” and they are moving away.
- Even if businesses can handle the business they have now with their tight work force, they are questioning whether they can sustain any growth with a local (to our area) business. In some cases, they are choosing not to expand, and even not to repair or maintain some of their buildings and equipment locally because they may be downsizing or moving.
So how does all this relate to our ECA members? In some cases, perhaps some of those concerns (or all of them) are being felt by some of your own workers and your own businesses are wrestling with the real question of whether this area will support an expanded work force by your firm. Even if it does not directly affect you, many of your employees depend on businesses hiring from you, or buying product or services from you, and if those “purchasers” are having trouble, it will not take long for that “trouble” to head your way in the form of reduced opportunities for projects or sales. Not only that, but you may be seeing some of your workers travelling from farther and farther away to get to local jobs and that may mean they are less dependable due to getting delayed on the road, or if you are paying them for fuel and vehicle, added costs just for them to get to work.
We have seen the local government officials catchy refrains “Build, baby build” and “We need 30,000 housing units in five years”. But what you have not seen, to a large extent, is a private side concerted effort to create a plan and get buy in from the elected and staffers to implement the plan. I do not mean to say there has not been some “successes”:
- The Santa Rosa City Council just voted last week to lower fees on building housing units higher that 3 stories in the downtown area. They realize they have urban boundaries and open space issues and tiger salamander issues which all translates into a need to build up, and not out, and do so in their urban core areas. This was a monumental move on the part of the SR City Council. For the first time in my memory, they have actually dangled the carrot in front of developers to entice them to build units they want. In talking to some developer friends, this might just be the gentle push that is needed to build these higher density units.
- Also, in the City of Santa Rosa, they drafted Measure N which will assess property owners around $30/$100,000 in assessed value to fund “Affordable Housing”. The ECA Endorses this idea and urges you to vote Yes on Measure N in Santa Rosa. These monies would go to subsidize housing for the workers our companies all need to retain or attract.
- In Windsor, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, and Santa Rosa, we have all seen a greater effort on the part of the Permitting departments to streamline the process, so homeowners or developers can move forward more quickly towards building their new house, addition, or new business.
- In several Cities, we have seen the City defer impact fees until such time as occupancy takes place. That only makes since-nothing is being impacted until the family moves in and starts using the drain system, water system, parks or schools. We need more of that!
What Can The ECA Do To Help?
Urge our member and families to Vote Yes on Local Measure N
Urge our member and families to Vote Yes on State Prop 5 (transfer property tax base to replacement property)
Urge our member and families to Vote No on State Prop 10 (rent control expansion for local governments)
Although our companies are the “in the ground” type rather than the sticks and glass above grade type contractors, we can still join forces with our allies and help out. I will soon be talking to our Workforce Development Committee and ask them to get more involved in supporting a group that will be asking developers what is needed for them to move forward on projects, collaborate with Cities and Counties on where those developers can find quick and approvable projects to move forward on, and our group will also help other Associations work with the City and County staffs to hold them accountable on how they are doing. If the City of Santa Rosa says they will turn plans into entitlement within 20 days, we will support checking on them and making sure they are doing so. If there are legit reasons for delays to those promised time lines, we will support working with businesses and other Associations to remove the impediments to the jurisdiction pushing those projects forward.
Building more housing is related to us in so many ways. Our own futures depend on having an adequate and affordable supply of housing in our local areas. Despite it not being simple, it can be done. The ECA is going to be working with some very smart and capable people and associations to push excuses away and get us to build more housing.
That’s All Folks!
Stormwater Erosion Season is Upon Us
On 10-19-18, the ECA and the North Coast Builders Exchange will be hosting a 2 hour workshop on Best Management Practices and SWPP compliance issues in Santa Rosa at 1040 Apollo Way (The NCBE Training Room). It will be featuring our own Mary Larsen from StormWater Specialists, Inc. and the City of Santa Rosa will provide us with Bob Oller who is in charge of all SWPP compliance for the City of Santa Rosa. The workshop will focus on smaller sites and will provide visual photos of what a “good site” is vs one that needs some attention. If you know any builders building houses, they will be the ones that can benefit the most from this workshop although all of our firms will get something useful out of the 2 hours as well.
The cost is $25 for members of the ECA and NCBE and $50 for non-members. Please call Mary at 707-546-5500 to reserve your spot!
Our Pal Robert Fedrick had a major stroke on September 12, 2018. He is getting out of the hospital this week and is talking and walking. I am sure you all join me in wishing Robert a speedy and complete recovery!
Mike Ghilotti of Ghilotti Bros fame, and Nancy Bennett who is our local rep for the League of California Cities, were on KSRO 1350 this morning (10-1-18) explaining why folks should Vote No on Prop 6. If you missed it, here is a link so you can listen to the 10 minute interview
PROP 6-THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
First-let me tell you that nobody hates government wasting our money, unnecessary and continual taxes for special interest benefits more than myself. I am “Loud and Proud” about opposing entitlements and bigger government that spends OUR MONEY lining the pockets of those that, either through circumstance or choice, do not pull their fair share in this tax and spend era.
When it comes to roads, bridges, and expanding or fixing those items, we have to accept that the government subsidizes those expenditures. That is reality. It is also reality that government has underfunded the maintenance of repairing and expanding our roads and bridges for many decades. Yep-it is true the State of California collects a lot of tax monies from fuel excise tax, weights and measures, and other fees even without the June 2017 passing of Senate Bill 1. It is also true that we have “dug ourselves” a financial hole by not spending enough over the last 40 years or so. Now, the roads and bridges need a big effort and a big expenditure to “make up for past budget cuts”.
Some of you, myself included, would like nothing more than to send a message to our State Legislators that this is a problem created by their predecessors and they should not look to the public to bail them out. Idealistically, the message would prompt the government into action, and they would cut entitlements, allocate more discretionary spending to roads and bridges, and eliminate waste and inefficiencies in CALTRANS and other government funded agencies to take care of the problem without making the public pay more.
That aint gonna happen.
No matter how you vote on Prop 6, it is a sure bet that even if 100% of the voters sided with the passing of Prop 6, the State Legislators will not reform entitlements because of the “message” the voters delivered. Why not? Because they would never get reelected. The plain simple facts are these-entitlements are here and if you take them away, you will be committing political suicide.
Reality sucks huh?
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly:
The Good: Senate Bill 1 (SB1) was passed by elected in June of 2017. Some of the Good that it does is that it added a fee for alternative fuel vehicles when they register their vehicle. I consider that Good because I always thought that those that drive electric cars are using our bridges and our highways and not paying anything for maintenance of same. I thought that was unfair. SB1 corrected that unfairness. The other thing SB1 did was immediately start collecting fuel tax revenues that had not been increased since 1994. Those additional revenues, around $5 billion a year, are being spent on highways, bridges, and roads all over the State to improve wait times and smoothness of the roads and soundness of our bridges. Duh. It was needed, it is a great thing for all citizens and certainly an even better thing for those of us who derive some, or much of our income from transportation infrastructure construction.
The Bad: It is a bad idea to say that because of SB1 passing, you are paying more in taxes. Here is why this is bad logic- Joe Q Public”, who drove a Buick Skylark in 1994 that got 12 miles per gallon, now drives a more fuel-efficient car that gets 19 miles per gallon in 2017. If “Joe Q Public” drove 12,000 miles a year in 1994, he would have purchased 1,000 gallons of gas. If “Joe Q Public” still drives 12,000 miles per year in 2017, he is only buying 632 gallons of gas. Since the fuel excise tax per gallon stayed the same before SB1 was passed, “Joe Q Public” was actually paying less in gas taxes in 2017 then he paid in taxes in 1994. In how many other examples do you know that you, or “Joe Q Public” was paying less taxes in 2017 than you, or “Joe Q Public” was paying in 1994? That’s right-zip! Enough with that argument that you have to vote for Prop 6, so you will not pay additional taxes. So those folks that are standing by the argument that “we already pay enough, we shouldn’t pay any more taxes” are not looking at the situation through clear eyes. Even with SB1 passing and there being an increase in fuel taxes, THEY AREN’T PAYING MORE IN FUEL TAXES THAN THEY PAID IN 1994!
THE UGLY: I WANT MY FUEL COSTS TO GO DOWN. IF I REPEAL SB1, THE COST OF FUEL WILL GO DOWN.
Think again Buttercup. If you believe that oil companies will voluntarily drop the price of fuel if 14 cents a gallon in taxes go away, I want to make a little wager with you. I say fuel prices will not go down if Prop 6 passes. I say they will continue to rise. And here is the UGLY part-what will we citizens get from the big “lesson” we delivered? That’s right, bend over and assume the position if you are expecting cheaper fuel prices after you vote to repeal SB 1. Oil companies have consumeers used to paying what we are paying, and they are not going to thank you for the extra 14 cents a gallong profit you will give them if you vote yes on Prop 6. Your big lesson will deliver reality to you in the form of crappier roads, less jobs, more costly repairs on your cars and trucks, and less ability for local government to fill potholes. UGLY LESSON.
Here is some other UGLY truth. Since SB1 was passed, additional fuel tax revenue has been collected. Now, since AB69 was passed, all those revenues are in a “lockbox” and cannot be diverted towards general fund expenditures. They have to be spent on transportation infrastructure and maintenance. For once, we taxpayers are protected. For those that actually do drive on the roads in California, you may have noticed some road improvements going on. Both local governments and the State are utilizing those additional revenues generated by SB1 to improve our roads and bridges. We all benefit from that. So, the lesson will be that we will no longer benefit from those additional dollars fixing our roads. No-they are not going to backfill the $5 Billion from reforming their entitlements and spending habits in Sacramento. Great lesson we taught ourselves. A moral victory, but an UGLY reality will remain.
More UGLY truth. Our roads and bridges are failing. The State of California has long underfunded those repairs. Yep-the State is guilty as charged. They already know that. That is why SB1 was passed. Does anybody really think that 40 years of underfunding transportation infrastructure will be corrected by repealing SB1? If you do, put the crack pipe down and listen up-those elected are not going to magically wave a wand and find another $5 billion to spend on transportation. If they could have, they would have years ago. Our roads and bridges have been in “crisis” mode for years. If it is so simple to “teach them a lesson” why did you not scream bloody murder when the State took money away from weights and measures fees to backfill their General Fund during the recession? At least now, SB1 funds are in a lockbox thanks to AB69 the voters passed In June of 2018. That was the real “lesson” we taught the State. We voters will not tolerate you taking tax revenues earmarked for infrastructure and applying it elsewhere. We taught the lesson already!
Again-I hate taxes. But I love sure bets and Clint Eastwood Spaghetti westerns. So, I will make an offer to anybody who wants to vote yes on Prop 6. My bet is this-I bet you a tank of gas that fuel companies will not lower their prices, nor keep them the same if taxes go down 14 cents per gallon. The price of fuel will go up that same (or more) 14 cents per gallon and you and I will not save anything. We will pay the same, and we will not get the benefit of seeing our industry get an additional $5 billion a year in work. Now that is a sure bet and I will appreciate the free tank of gas from any takers.
Vote No On 6. Hold your nose if you have to, but do not believe the backers of this Proposition who will not be in Sacramento when the budgets will have to deal with the repeal of SB1. SB1 is one of those “good taxes” where we see more benefit than pain. Keep it in place and let’s continue to fix our roads and bridges. Vote No On 6.
That’s All Folks!
On October 1, at 7:46 am, Mr. Mike Ghilotti will be on KSRO radio explaining why voters should vote No on 6. Tune in folks! Thanks Mike for getting involved!
Thoughts and Prayers go out to Bubba (Robert Fedrick), a very good friend, who suffered a stroke on 9-12-18. I am sure you all join me in wishing him strength in getting through this and for a speedy recovery.
It is going to rain soon. Make sure your SWPP practices are up to date and if you are working on fire rebuilding, make sure your clients are covered. Here are some reminders from the City of Santa Rosa on BMP’s for erosion control. Brochure erosion control<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0013U4rLmHRj3eS3z2q25lRoiSSNjpeZma0IAf5KW6Pt9roj9glIhZdX_-3AmEEC7gzYB0GMz5kmxF9zbK0HbKS7eanH2riIcXkVhPgg3cNvnRzVai1c0Jxsq24BmBT1ZpCcuUE1tO5AEYDT91OaVYL50qwQt2bW435sL4W-vpKuRDzxpaKTBZbfscThg7PD3UgYOvH0NKToOHByqThCoNJIMm-vrHIavXjdt7l-mt7H2-qOrZh34pk1OQIQm47uQ8D&c=AW2VyhUpLoNFb_99f7K7CRYza9NhoVLifLWRymuWD95oVfU22J2dfQ==&ch=RSbNs239GnVLpy2JCuF1d3YvsA87GtYhdOGAKecRF3blP0WbrMQyqw==>. Construction Brochure<http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=0013U4rLmHRj3eS3z2q25lRoiSSNjpeZma0IAf5KW6Pt9roj9glIhZdX_-3AmEEC7gz1_EYmppJPdSWnpE8aYfbI0yPt_S77ukp7j5_tFkHaOdTLi6eCv1cZhSPzjoFumlJzRW5KhKMjXzG3NwB7evx1r14hrGTY8NO5fFRGooCrNvwQ1fHNC4bdCdyeaHnJWmXn774AfoY8z9MJeazRXXqHYZ8hV1AVmyiWW53S81c3wcVYFxMawZYP2KgMyFEM5Dm&c=AW2VyhUpLoNFb_99f7K7CRYza9NhoVLifLWRymuWD95oVfU22J2dfQ==&ch=RSbNs239GnVLpy2JCuF1d3YvsA87GtYhdOGAKecRF3blP0WbrMQyqw==>. Also, keep watching as we will be hosting (along with the North Coast Builders Exchange) a Stormwater erosion control workshop very soon. We are setting it up for the 2nd week of October as you are reading this!