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!