University of California, Riverside Highlander Letter to the Editor: In response to the Highlander’s gas tax editorial

December 5, 2017 
By: Kenneth Rosenfield 

In response to the Highlander editorial published on November 20, 2017, entitled, “California must put the brakes on new gas tax,” the Highlander has its facts right about the condition of the State’s infrastructure, but they are dead wrong on how we should pay for transportation infrastructure.

The recent increase in the gas tax is the exact right approach to paying for the streets and roads that we use every day. We should not yield to a fringe political effort to repeal a benefit for all users of our roadways. Do not sign the petition, do not vote for repeal.

The passage of SB1 in the 2017 legislative year was 21 years overdue, as we cannot maintain our roadways with monies that have half the buying power that it once did. Think about it, can you buy anything today with the same buying power as two decades ago? Of course not! The gas tax is the exact right method to pay for our roads because it is “pay as you go” and does not defer a big cost to future generations. The use of the roadways is not free, we must equitably pay based upon our use of the roadways and the purchase of fuel provides that mechanism. And, based upon their use of the roadways, the trucking industry pays a higher tax when using diesel fuel than gasoline vehicles. The trucking industry understands the value of good condition roadways and supports the new tax.

In an annual report entitled, “California Statewide Local Streets and Roads Need Assessment,” prepared by the League of California Cities, the condition of the state’s roadways is considered to be “rolling off a cliff” with most of the roadways in a poor condition and near failure. It costs multiple times as much to replace a roadway than it costs to maintain one in good condition. We can fix it now or pay much higher costs in the future. In a report prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers entitled, “Failure to Act,” it was determined that the poor condition of our nation’s infrastructure costs an average family of four approximately $3,400 per year; a huge price to pay for delay, congestion, damages to vehicles and increased costs of goods and services as a result of inefficient and poor condition infrastructure.

The small and overdue gas tax increase is the lowest cost approach to solving this problem and will reduce the real costs of failing infrastructure for all Californians. For the price of a once per week large specialty coffee we can all have decent roadways and improve the quality of life for all. Furthermore, we live in a representative democracy and we should thank our elected officials for passing SB1. SB1 is the right solution at the right time in California history and it includes taxpayer safeguards to verify the monies will only be spent on transportation infrastructure. The Federal Government will not solve our needs for roadway funds, we must act to protect our own interests. Do not repeal SB1, do not even sign the petitions, a repeal is a “head in the sand” approach that will hurt us all.