Monday, March 2, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

California’s deteriorating highways need a different revenue system

By
From page A9 | June 22, 2014 |

There was a time, four or five decades ago, when financing, building and maintaining California’s immense highway network was considered to be the Capitol’s most important work.

No more.

Highways have slipped below the political radar, even though Californians rack up more than 300 billion miles of automotive travel each year and even though the highways suffer from severe deficiencies that would, the California Transportation Commission says, cost $700 billion over the next decade to erase, several times what current revenue would produce.

As noted in this space previously, an ideological disdain for highways among liberals, combined with an equally fierce dislike of taxes among conservatives, has been a recipe for political neglect.

California’s vehicular travel has doubled during the last 30 years, but fuel consumption has risen by only one-third – good news overall but bad news for our battered highways.

A long-standing tax system based on fuel volume has become obsolete as autos have become more fuel-efficient.

Meanwhile, electric vehicles bypass tax-collecting fuel pumps altogether, even though they add to congestion and highway wear.

Inflation compounds the crisis.

A study by the University of Souther California estimates that with adjustment for inflation, the state’s gas tax is worth much less than 50 percent of what it was in 1970, even with some rate increases during the period.

Basing road revenue on fuel gallonage, or even prices, is no longer realistic, and we should shift to mileage-based financing. It’s kicked around transportation circles for decades, but is gaining new traction among highway advocates.

The state Senate has approved a bill by Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, which would, as recently amended, create a “Mileage-Based Fee Task Force” within the California Transportation Commission to recommend a pilot project.

As passed by the Senate, Senate Bill 1077 would have ordered the California Transportation Agency to develop the pilot program, but the amended version adopts a more circuitous process.

The USC study said that a mileage fee of 2.1 cents per mile could completely replace the gas tax, and while it could take many forms, all raise questions of privacy. If travel is to be monitored and taxed, then how can the data be collected without a governmental Big Brother knowing where motorists are driving?

One big aspect of the proposed pilot project, therefore, will be to devise ways to protect personal privacy, and it’s not impossible. Oregon has devised a fee system that passes muster with the American Civil Liberties Union.

SB 1077 is just a baby step, and given the underlying political divisions, it may lead nowhere, even if the Assembly approves the bill. But it’s a start. Highways are not improving with age.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him as [email protected]

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 12 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Tax PayerJune 22, 2014 - 6:20 am

    The "Bullet Train" will take care of all of these issues. Only $68+ billion dollars of wasteful spending on a project to serve a few. Kinda like our bus systems. Watch the buses travel around Vacaville each day. Especially when the kids are on summer break. Very few ride it and this will be with our governors beloved project also! Wake up citizens it is all happening right under your noses!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tax PayerJune 22, 2014 - 6:23 am

    They will place GPS units in all vehicles so if you drive too much you will get additional taxes. If you don't pay any taxes, illegal aliens, you won't have to worry about this. Good old California going after he extinction of the middle class tax by tax!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJune 22, 2014 - 6:48 am

    Tax Payer, Police and Insurance companies have been trying for years to get their hands on our car's computer systems. Imagine what they would do with that information!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJune 22, 2014 - 6:50 am

    This is an interesting concept and we need funding to properly maintain our roadways. In California we have many retired people that drive less frequently and that number will continue to decline for several years. On one hand it's only fair to charge those that actually do the most driving thus the most damage to the road ways. But we all contribute or have done so over the years and of course many retired people are now travelling with motor homes so I suppose it balances out. On the surface this appears to be a reasonable plan, but I’m curious as to how they will implement it.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • FDCJune 22, 2014 - 7:30 am

    "...a mileage fee of 2.1 cents per mile could completely replace the gas tax..." But would it? Of course not. The merry band of thieves in Sacramento would keep the gas tax, then spend the 2.1 cents per mile new tax on something other than highways, just as they spend the gas tax now. Insanity! Next election, DRIP. Don't Return Incumbent Politicians.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagJune 22, 2014 - 9:04 am

    How about if we just we are highway tax dollars and bridge toll money for the highways, the problem is this money also is used to subsides bus system like AC transit and the ferry system so here is an idea, if they system can’t operate on their current income they go out of business like anyone else, If we want to go down the road of (you use it you pay for it) than how about only people that use the school system pay for it and everyone else does not have to pay that tax.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike KirchubelJune 22, 2014 - 9:12 am

    What a great Republican idea, JAG. Let's set the whole country up for failure, where only the rich survive.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagJune 22, 2014 - 9:45 am

    I understand your point Mike, so to be fair we change it all to a user based system or we leave it as a tax based system,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mike KirchubelJune 22, 2014 - 10:58 am

    Jag, your question provides only two choices: all or nothing and that may be convenient for your argument, but that's not how the world works.. For the highways, we have a system in place where we are all taxed, but those who actually use the roads pay more in the form of a gasoline tax. How the electric cars should be taxed is open for discussion. As far as our schools, we are all taxed because we all benefit from the fact that there aren't hundreds of millions of people running around the streets without an education. Guess what that would look like.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagJune 22, 2014 - 1:09 pm

    Trust me Mike I am not that smart to make a topic covenant for my argument, I did not even think about electric cars until you pointed it out and they should have to pay something, I am just a simple guy that gets up and goes to work in S.F every day and comments on how I see things, but let me ask you in your view would it be ok for FF to have a charter school with higher tuition that uses tax dollars but if I choose to use it I would have to pay the additional cost?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • mike kirchubelJune 22, 2014 - 1:29 pm

    Let ne try to answer that by asking you a question: how do you feel about tax dollars going to fund private corporations? It seems like a corporation getting tax dollars would have a tremedous advantage over other businesses. How would you justify that to the other companies trying to make it on their own?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagJune 22, 2014 - 1:53 pm

    Tax dollars should not go to private corporations, but education is expensive if you want to get out of the typical 30 child class room basic education size and prefer the addition help with a smaller setting then you are still using the school system but you are using an upgrade for an additional cost, It is like Los Angeles has toll roads you can choose to sit in traffic for the basic road or pay to use the more wide open less crowded better paved road that uses both public and private funding.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Whiteside ready to take Travis school board seat

    By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    World War II spy shares tales of work behind enemy lines

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    I love to ‘read’ audiobooks

    By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

     
    Council to hear budget scenarios

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

    Sessions on Suisun water rate increases to start

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Fairfield High School celebrates black history

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Warm winter afternoon at Lagoon Valley Park

    By Steve Reczkowski | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Free medical series targets senior health issues

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Pena Adobe hosts natural dye-making presentation

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    PublicStuff, an online app, set for Fairfield

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

     
    Beginning gardening series starts in March

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Literacy celebration returns this month

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Shell casings, but no victims found on Del Sur Court

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

    Vacaville 4-alarm house fIre

    By Steve Reczkowski | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    IHOP takes part in National Pancake Day

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

    Local governments schedule meetings this week

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

     
    Weather for Monday, March 2, 2015

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

    Corner Store Gallery schedules open house

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    .

    US / World

    Kerry tries to dampen fuss over Israeli PM’s speech

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Hundreds of bills introduced by California lawmakers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Lawmakers tinker with crime measure recently OK’d by voters

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Storm brings rain, thunder, hail to Southern California

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    California GOP recognizes gay faction of party

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Family backs mom of infant found dead along California river

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Survey: Parents increasingly ask doctors to delay vaccines

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Newspaper: Nurse who survived Ebola says hospital failed her

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Myanmar captures rare white elephant in western jungles

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Crowd kills girl suspected to be suicide bomber in Nigeria

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    New plane tracking to be tested after Malaysia jet mystery

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Iraqi premier gives ultimatum ahead of hinted Tikrit attack

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Activists say Islamic State releases 19 Syrian Christians

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Sierra Leone’s vice president in quarantine for Ebola

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    30,000 marchers in Moscow mourn slain Putin foe

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Spacewalking astronauts finish extensive, tricky cable job

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    .

    Opinion

    Your right to work for less

    By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8

     
    Right fight in DC, but wrong reason

    By Colbert I. King | From Page: A8

    Editorial Cartoon: March 2, 2015

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    A night with a King

    By Delon Jackson | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: March 2, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: March 2, 2015

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Why timeouts only prolong the problem

    By The Washington Post | From Page: B5

     
    Horoscopes: March 3, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

    Horoscopes: March 2, 2015

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

     
    It’s never a good idea to point out how big a pregnant woman is

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

    .

    Entertainment

     
    Will Smith’s ‘Focus’ tops box office with $19.1 million

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    Lady Gaga, Vince Vaughn take charity polar plunge in Chicago

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    TVGrid March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

    TVGrid March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

     
    .

    Sports

    Lillard, Aldridge lead Blazers past Kings for 3rd in a row

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Curry scores 37, leads Warriors from 26 down to beat Celtics

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Jimmie Johnson pulls away for another Atlanta Sprint Cup win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Giants reliever Strickland insists he’s tranquil on mound

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    Former Washington basketball star Christian Welp dies at 51

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Sharks trade Sheppard to Rangers for draft pick

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    4,000 attend Jerry Tarkanian tribute in Las Vegas arena

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Garnett buys 1,000 tickets for fans for next T-wolves game

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Poulter, Casey share lead at rain-delayed Honda Classic

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Blatter concerned by Russian soccer racism before World Cup

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Broadcasters propose FIFA election debate to Blatter, rivals

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Major league baseball’s 1st black Latino star Minoso dies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Seller’s market for NHL teams as trade deadline nears

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Andy Sullivan wins Joburg Open for 2nd title this year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    South Korea’s Amy Yang wins Honda LPGA Thailand

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Hannah hurls Bulldogs to 2-0 win over Campolindo

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

     
    Oregon women upset No. 19 Stanford 62-55

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Indians open season with 12-4 win over Falcons

    By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

     
    Oregon beats Stanford 73-70, clinches bye in Pac-12 tourney

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Process gets underway to carve up $60 million Sandusky fine

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Cal’s big run lifts Bears past Oregon State 73-56

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    This date in sports history for March 2, 2015

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez nearing 1st spring game

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

     
    Fast and furious: Rousey looks to future after 14-second win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Samsung ditches plastic design, adds mobile pay in new phone

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

     
    In Apple’s latest update, emojis get diverse

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

    Mimi’s adds breakfast items to menu

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Lester Singer

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Jacqueline Mendes

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Garfield March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Sally Forth March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Get Fuzzy March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Frank and Ernest March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Dilbert March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Beetle Bailey March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Blondie March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    For Better or Worse March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Wizard of Id March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Pickles March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Peanuts March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    B.C. March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baby Blues March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Rose is Rose March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Baldo March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Zits March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Cryptoquote March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Word Sleuth March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Bridge March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Crossword March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Sudoku March 3

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    For Better or Worse March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Dilbert March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baldo March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Zits March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Rose is Rose March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Pickles March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Garfield March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Get Fuzzy March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Frank and Ernest March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Blondie March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Sally Forth March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Wizard of Id March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baby Blues March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    B.C. March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Beetle Bailey March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Peanuts March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Sudoku March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Bridge March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Word Sleuth March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Crossword March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Cryptoquote March 2

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7