Monday, September 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Users-pay system worked well for highways, should return

walters column sig

By
From page A9 | June 01, 2014 |

California built its world-class highway system in the three decades after World War II on a simple principle – users pay.

Automotive fuel was taxed at the pump and the proceeds were used exclusively for highway construction and maintenance, along with some “spillover” from vehicle registration fees and “weight fees” on heavy trucks.

In the ensuing four decades, however, the highway system deteriorated, and so did the users-pay system that financed it.

Liberals disliked highway construction, conservatives disliked taxes and they formed an unholy alliance in the Capitol to undermine what had been one of the state’s proudest and most important achievements.

During the 1980s, frustrated with the Capitol’s transportation stalemate, local governments began seeking – and getting – authority to ask their voters for sales tax increases to finance projects, a big shift from the users-pay principle.

A quarter-century ago, then-Gov. George Deukmejian championed a doubling of the state gas tax, then 9 cents a gallon, which was subsequently approved by voters.

However, it did not solve the system’s financial travails and the state continued to move away from users-pay financing.

A decade later, a few billion dollars in windfall income tax revenue were spent on highway projects, and in 2006, voters approved a $19.9 billion general obligation bond issue largely devoted to highways.

However, as the state faced budget deficits, some fuel tax funds were borrowed to balance its books, and in 2010, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature eliminated the sales tax on fuel, raised gallonage taxes by an equal amount and used about $1 billion to repay those 2006 highway bonds, thereby relieving pressure on the general fund.

It was an indirect revival of the users-pay system, but just months later, voters passed Proposition 22, which barred the use of gas tax funds to pay for transportation bonds. Just a few months after that, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators did an end run by shifting truck weight fees into servicing the bonds.

Highway construction groups, citing the state’s much-improved finances, now want Brown and legislators to shift gears again and move truck weight fees from bond service back into transportation projects.

More than 30 contractors and construction unions sent a letter with that demand to Brown and legislative leaders recently, calling it “imperative,” and they are also pushing legislation to that effect.

California’s deteriorating highway system certainly needs more money, but it’s also important that we return to the users-pay principle as a matter of equity and to protect highways from being a pawn in the annual budget wrangle.

Doing what the highway interests seek would undermine that principle again.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him as dwalters@sacbee.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

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

  • JagJune 01, 2014 - 8:46 am

    Wow I actually agree with the union on keeping the money on where it is suppose to go but after that continue to bid that work out,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Highway 12 project nears completion

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

‘Snail mail’ still kinda cool

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
 
Car club raises funds, supplies for SPCA

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3

 
Democrats plan candidates meet, greet

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

Stand Up 2 Cancer Viewing party set in Vacaville

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Senior center schedules discussion on senior travel

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Local government schedule meetings

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Premier post details of new lease

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7

 
Il Fiorello to host jazz event

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
New doctors join NorthBay

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7

Goodwill opens Outlet Store in Fairfield

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A7, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Small earthquakes shake Solano

By Glen Faison | From Page: A9

 
.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: Sept. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
 
Whopper of a tax dodge for Burger King

By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8, 21 Comments

Is social media enlarging or stifling democracy?

By Cynthia M. Allen | From Page: A8

 
Compromise on Cordelia Road rail crossing costs

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Justice for all

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
Good job, Susan Winlow

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Sept. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Is my husband right when he says men aren’t made for monogamy?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Sept. 2, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
5 takeaways from a punch-less summer box office

By Jake Coyle | From Page: A11

Joan Rivers’ daughter: I’m keeping fingers crossed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Source: 49ers OL Boone agrees to new 2-yr deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
49er Ray McDonald accused of domestic violence

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Kahne holds off Kenseth to win Atlanta shootout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Wozniacki outlasts Sharapova, in US Open quarters

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Falcons looking to be defensive

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Otto wins Italian Open; Gallacher comes up short

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Weather for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Henley takes a 1-shot lead at Deutsche Bank

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Dunn dealt to A’s, could be his last shot playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Fred Couples wins Champions Tour event

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
A’s frustrated after 8-1 loss caps sweep by Angels

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Ernst wins LPGA’s Portland Classic in playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Giants power past Brewers 15-5 for 3-game sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Down at half, US beats Turkey in basketball worlds

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Source: Chiefs’ Smith agrees to 4-yr extension

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tony Stewart’s return to race track ends early

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sam clears waivers, meets with Fisher

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

FC Kansas City wins NWSL title over Seattle, 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raiders claim DE Mayowa off waivers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jensen waived after Jaguars awarded TE Shuler

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Laurie Danielson Bailey

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Hazel Gertrude Wamsley

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Jerry Lee Trammell

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 6 Comments

 
.

Comics

Pickles Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4, 1 Comment

 
Sally Forth Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth Sept 1

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Get Fuzzy Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
B.C. Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baldo Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Dilbert Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Wizard of Id Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

For Better or Worse Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Blondie Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Sudoku Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Bridge Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Word Sleuth Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Crossword Sept 2

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7