Friday, July 25, 2014
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 dwalters@sacbee.com.

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
.

Solano News

 
CSP Solano inmates make music for rehabilitation

By Krissi Khokhobashvili | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Big Chuckllz, fellow comics want to keep Fairfield laughing

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Holly Stell ready for new adventure, plans Sunday concert

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Solano actors join forces for new single, ‘Groove Me’

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Organizers seek riders, volunteers for Ride to Defeat Diabetes

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Friday concerts begin Aug. 1 at Solano Town Center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B3

 
Bay Stage filled with entertainment at Solano County Fair

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B3

 
 
Bay Area’s air district issues Spare the Air alert

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Assembly candidate Henthorn to appear at GOP dinner

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A5

 
Fairfield police log: July 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Daily Republic seeks good news for column

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A12, 22 Comments

 
.

US / World

Judge argues for return of firing squad executions

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 8 Comments

 
California removes lane splitting guidelines

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 3 Comments

Execution offers evidence against lethal injection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Outcry saves rare redwood from being chopped down

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

California man gets 4 years in counterfeit case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
SF professor charged with taping students in bathroom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California wine collector set for sentencing on fraud charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
 
Obama wants limits on US company mergers abroad

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Toxic algae closes Oakland’s Lake Temescal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
House panel clears way for vote on Obama lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Feds cap fines for not buying health insurance

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
House, Senate chairs offer competing bills on VA

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 2 Comments

Doctor fired back at gunman in hospital attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Social Security’s $300M IT project doesn’t work

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

More US girls now getting cervical cancer vaccine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Storm slams Virginia campground; 2 dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Ukrainian prime minister announces resignation

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Air Algerie jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Islamic militants seize part of Syrian army base

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Iraq elects new president as attacks kill dozens

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

As inmate died, lawyers debated if he was in pain

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

Call for tech diversity misplaced

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

 
Is parenting being criminalized in America?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
Coyote epidemic in Fairfield

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 8 Comments

Editorial Cartoons for July 25, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History for July 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: July 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes for July 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
My siblings want friends to handle sale of our father’s house

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview July 25-31, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: Allen casts a limp spell in ‘Magic’

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

Review: ‘Lucy’ won’t stretch your brain capacity

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Robert Downey Jr. open to returning for ‘Iron Man 4’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Will Ferrell and Adam McKay to go wild with ‘Manimal’ movie

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: B2

Kiss, Usher, J.Lo to perform at Fashion Rocks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Pop star Azalea talking fashion on MTV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Jon Bon Jovi to be honored for humanitarian work

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Malkovich, Cumberbatch make Comic-Con premieres

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar July 25, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Stonestreet: Acceptance will grow for gay athletes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Moss powers A’s past Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Eagles soar past Expos in Area 1 tourney

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

Hudson solid, Hammels better in Giants’ loss to Phillies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Indians win 14-8 over Mudcats

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B7

49ers’ Smith plans to meet soon with Commissioner Goodell

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Pucker up! NASCAR returns to Brickyard

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Manning getting used to new faces on Broncos

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Raiders CB Hayden to start camp on PUP

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Nibali wins Stage 18, closes in on Tour victory

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Suspended WR Blackmon arrested on drug complaint

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Signups for Friday, July 25, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
Ravens RB Rice receives 2-game suspension from NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Lynch expected to hold out from Seahawks camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Putnam, Petrovic share Canadian Open lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

AP source: Gordon to meet with league Aug. 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Langer leads British Senior by 2 after 1st round

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Taiwan sweeps US in 1st day of International Crown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
A’s Johnson designated for assignment

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

AP Source: NFL stadium sites explored in Toronto

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
2 Texas football players charged with sexual assault

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Cavs sign Wiggins, who can’t be traded for 30 days

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
This date in sports history for Friday, July 25, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, July 25, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
Weather for July 25, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

.

Business

LR4 is updated for fuel efficiency

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Ford’s green push

By Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service | From Page: C2

Varying health premium subsidies worry consumers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Court throws out Chiquita terror payment claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Bombardier restructuring cuts 1,800 jobs globally

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

US new-home sales plummet in June

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Across US job market, layoffs are becoming rare

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

US unemployment aid applications drop to 284,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Dunkin’ pushing cashiers to ‘upsell’ in afternoons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Shirley T. ‘Mac’ McFadden

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 5 Comments

 
Nelson Max Allen

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
.

Solano County Fair 2014

Cultural exhibits, entertainment are fair highlights

By Solano County Fair | From Page: SCF2 | Gallery

Bay Stage talent competitions, nightly karaoke party

By Solano County Fair | From Page: SCF3

Jack & Bernice Newell Junior Livestock Auction returns to fair

By Solano County Fair | From Page: SCF4 | Gallery

Big names, big sounds grace fair stage

By Solano County Fair | From Page: SCF4 | Gallery

Bay Stage welcomes wide array of entertainers

By Solano County Fair | From Page: SCF15 | Gallery

Solano shines at fair’s County and Cities Expo

By Solano County Fair | From Page: SCF16