A new effort to restrict
gas tax money to transportation work is taking shape in California.
A combination of transportation officials,
labor and business leaders and local officials want the state to stop diverting
gas tax money to uses other than transportation, according to media
Those diversions have already moved $2 billion out of the
state’s road funds, according to an analysis
by the Keston Institute for Infrastructure at the University of Southern
California. And a report in The
Sacramento Bee indicated those diversions could include another $1.4
billion in the next year.
That has happened despite a ballot measure, approved by
nearly 70 percent of the state’s voters in 2002, mandating that California
could not divert the funds away from transportation except in an emergency.
Proposition 42, as the measure is known, requires a two-thirds vote of the state’s Legislature to move
the money elsewhere.
most states, California is in a budget crisis,” Keston Institute officials said
in an Executive Summary. “We are struggling to supply urgently needed services
with diminishing revenues. As in many states, California's transportation funds
are being cut to fund other needs.”
has led to a number of public figures calling for an end to the diversions.
hunch is the average San Diegan doesn't have a clue that the Legislature is
robbing these dollars," Gary Gallegos, executive director of the San Diego
Association of Governments, told Copley
"Our roads are now Third World roads," Bob
Balgenorth, a state building trades official on the California Transportation
Commission, told The Bee.
time to stop using Proposition 42 as a piggy bank," Robert Balgenorth,
president of the California Building & Construction Trades Council, said in
the Copley report.
are already acting to close the loophole in Proposition 42 that has allowed
continued diversions. The Bee reported that Assemblyman Tom Harman,
R-Huntington Beach, and Assemblyman George Plescia, R-La Jolla, would introduce
a constitutional amendment to do just that.
not the first time that Harman has made such an effort. During last year’s
session, he introduced ACA 29, a proposed contitutional amendment also designed to
restrict transportation tax money to road work. However, in May 2004, he
announced that the bill failed to receive passage in the Assembly
“The transportation fund has been cut to nearly zero
due to so-called ‘fiscal emergencies’ that continue to plague California,”
Harman said at that time. “In the meantime, our highways and streets are
falling into an acute state of disrepair.
“California’s highway system is being shortchanged by
the very people that are supposed to fund it. The raiding of transportation
dollars needs to stop and it needs to stop now.”