Friday, November 28, 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

 
Solano Turkey Trot draws 2,600 to college

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Giving thanks, ‘even in this broken world,’ on Thursday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Early Black Friday shoppers take advantage of deals

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Il Fiorello schedules olive milling day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Eagle Scout project adds floating docks at Rockville Park

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
.

US / World

‘Guardian angel,’ community join to give man home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US celebrates Thanksgiving with parades, turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Tons of marijuana seized in Central California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Gorilla death prompts San Francisco Zoo changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Health agents still unpaid after plan’s rollout

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
California Burger King employee finds $100,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

At 1 month, US Ebola monitors finding no cases

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Families asked to host visitors for pope’s US trip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Researchers discover ‘pre-cancers’ in blood

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
35 arrested in Oakland after protest march

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

A glance at Ferguson: Then, now and the future

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
For some, location of Brown’s hands irrelevant

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Ferguson gives thanks after a quiet night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Colorado mastodon bones show ancient warmer Earth

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Queen of crime writing PD James dies aged 94

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Taliban attack rocks upscale Kabul district

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Small quake rattles California wine country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

 
What it costs to fight the Islamic State

By Walter Pincus | From Page: A11

 
Harvard admissions, then and now

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Movies just another course on Thanksgiving

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Poor health is no excuse for not behaving like a caring person

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

Horoscope for Nov. 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
.

Entertainment

Week in preview: Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2′ doesn’t work

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

Review: ‘Madagascar’ spin-off hatches family fun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Prison theater transforms Colombian inmates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Singer John Mayer among ‘Late Late Show’ subs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Reading Harry Potter gives clues to brain activity

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Talking songs with She & Him

By Kim Durbin | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar Nov. 28, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B4

 
Cosby testimony describes accuser’s spiked story

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Sports

College notebook: Many happy returns for Arizona’s Bondurant

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Sherman’s big night leads Seattle past 49ers again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Rookie quarterback Carr is Raiders’ silver lining

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
US cities urged to keep price tags down for 2024

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Eagles roll over Cowboys 33-10 for NFC East lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
5 investigated in FIFA WCup bid corruption probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Johnson shines in Detroit’s 34-17 win over Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
No. 9 UCLA must overcome Stanford for Pac-12 title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Signups for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Kia’s ‘Soulful’ first electric car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Automakers aim to drive away car computer hackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

3 Reasons holiday shoppers will spend cautiously

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
OPEC keeps oil output on hold despite low prices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

‘Chipper’ Douglas Lee Anderson Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Deanna L. Haines

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Esther Ringler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9