Friday, April 14, 2017

California Gas Tax Tumble

By Douglas V. Gibbs

You remember the joke, right?  How do you know a politician is lying?  Their lips are moving.  We have become so accustomed to the lying, we assume they are always lying. . . yet, we believe them.  It's a weird, sort of Twilight Zone, kind of thing.

They lie.  But, we believe them.

In California, we are on the verge of going from the fourth highest gas taxes in the country to the highest.  We are being told it's for road repairs, and other infrastructure projects.  They told us that about other taxes, but it was always a lie.  They told us the currently second highest gas taxes in the county were for making sure our infrastructure was taken care of.  But, we have crumbling bridges, a mess of potholes, and a crumbling dam in Oroville.

And, somehow, there are those who believe them with this latest gas tax attack.

We are dominated by the Democrats.  They have more than two-thirds control over both legislative houses in Sacramento.  California is the liberal left utopian mecca of Democrat Party madness, and we are in big trouble as a result.  There is no bi-partisanship.  They are doing as the please, because they want to, and we the people are paying for it.

The costly and ineffective transportation plan we are now faced with was completely their baby.  It had little public input, and no public support.  The plan is not smart about how we go about building new roads, or repairing our existing infrastructure, and it simply feeds the monster that is our bloated transportation bureaucracy.  To gorge the monster a little more, we are now putting into place the biggest gas tax increase in State history, with a whole list of false promises of where it will be spent, while the State currently steals money already supposed to be for transportation for other government programs such as a bullet train nobody will ride, benefits for illegal aliens that have never paid into the system, and dare I say, public labor union demands of higher wages and massive pensions.

Our roads are horrible because the California Democrats place ideology before our own best interests.  We have soon to be the highest gas taxes in the country, and receive oodles of federal money for highways and such, yet, our roads and infrastructure ranks among the worst in the United States.

There is plenty of blame to go around. Politicians love to blame each other for the other politicians placing our roads on the back burner.

The Republicans in California, the minority party in this State, and then some, has been trying to put forth bills that they believe would solve our transportation difficulties without adding more tax burdens upon the people of California.  But, thanks to the Democrat Party's unwillingness to accept anything that does not fit their collectivist, utopian narrative, we are in a crisis.  The GOP in California is always at the negotiating table alone.  The Democrats are not even willing to show up to hear what the Republicans have to say.

The Republican proposals were never given a hearing, and the liberal left progressive Democrat Party legislative leaders refused to seriously consider any plans not loaded with massive tax increases.

Wasn't it just a few years ago (okay, maybe 2003 was a few more years ago than a few) that Californians recalled Gray Davis for the same gas tax madness?

A Democrat in Republican clothing (and we have many of those here in California), Arnold Schwarzenegger, however, didn't fare much better, and thanks to him we have open primaries that have killed the GOP's chance to win elections.

So much for the governor who claimed to be a Republican.

Schwarzenegger learned quickly who runs this State, during his time in the Governor's Mansion.  He promised to take on the unions, and it only took them six months to break him.  That's probably the main reason the Democrats won't be reasonable in California.  The unions.  The powerful unions run this State, and won't give up the high government wages and pensions they've negotiated.  The unions won't allow accountability, or any fixes to our inefficient bureaucracy because that might take dollars out of their pockets, and the unions and their demands are the Democrat Party's current spending priorities.

What's even worse, not only will the Democrats not come to the negotiating table with Republicans, the new gas tax on the verge of being thwarted on Californians was created, and negotiated, behind closed doors, and then voted on a mere six days later without any worry of a lack of Republican support because the GOP does not have the votes to stop anything the Democrats do.

Simply put, we have a single-party totalitarian rule in California where anyone, be it the GOP, or the voting public, who disagrees is ignored, and they are not even consulted.

Karl Marx would be proud of California.

"Who cares?" the Democrats are seemingly saying.  After all, they don't need the support of the Republicans, small businesses, family farms or ordinary Californians on the gas tax plan (or anything else, for that matter).  They've got the support of big business and big labor.

In other words, the unions and big corporations.  Everybody thinks the Democrats are for the poor and the little guy, but their actions and support network in California says otherwise.  And it is the poor, and the little guy (in business), who will suffer most under this latest bill that will jack up gas prices to an amount that will have some people choosing between filling their tank, and eating.

I remember when a friend of mine was first elected to the California Assembly.  She told me it was worse than she thought when she got there.  Many of the votes are not placed until the Democrats (and some Republicans) look over at the lobbyists from the unions to get a head-nod or shake of a head.

As for any of the legislators that didn't want to vote for the gas tax, especially if they were Democrats, in the hours leading up to the vote, they were bribed easily with nearly $1 billion in pork in exchange for their support.

Excitement filled the air in Sacramento when late on the night of April 6, when the votes had been fully tallied.  The Democrats were ecstatic.  Their applause rang through the corridors of Sacramento.  They were excited to be able to break the back of everyone who uses their own private transportation without having to worry about convincing any of those pesky Republicans to jump on board.  The bill was approved by both houses and sent to the governor.  The applause came from the political elites and corporate and union special interest groups; not from those who this will hurt the most.

Before the madness we are now being faced with, we already had among the highest gas taxes in the nation, and the highest in the country if you count the cap and trade tax.  Our gas prices are already the highest in the U.S. (between high taxes and special blends), and this new tax will put us into the stratosphere in comparison to any other State.  While the current gas taxes and transportation fees already yield $10.6 billion annually, we still have the worst roads in the country, and Caltrans only spends 20% of that $10.6 billion annual revenue on State road repair and new construction.  Caltrans wastes half a billion dollars annually on extra staffing.  Poor road conditions cost Californians $17 billion yearly in vehicle repairs.  Regulations and fees, however, also make it difficult to fix our roads, with it costing 4.7 times more per mile of road constructed than the national average.  One example discussed by Senator John Moorlach told of how Caltrans paid $205,075 to relocate a bush that you can buy at Home Depot for $15.00.  

He said, “The $100,000 to pay for the ‘hard removal,’ the $79,470 to pay for the ‘establishment, nurturing and monitoring’ of the plant for a decade after its ‘hard removal,’ and the $25,605 to cover the ‘reporting requirements’ for the decade after the ‘hard removal,’ equaled a total cost of $205,075 for ‘translocating’ this manzanita bush.”

$25,000 just for the paperwork.

Many years ago I worked for a city, and I made the observation that the city paid ridiculous amounts for administrative products like paper and pens that I could get for a lot less at Staples or Office Depot.  The response was, "We've always used the same outlet, and besides, if we paid less, our allotted amount for these items would go down."

If I ran my household like the politicians run our State, I would lose my house and be living in a cardboard box.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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