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Bait & Switch: Gov. Newsom Diverts Gas Tax Money For His Climate Goals

gavin newsom

gavin newsom

Gov. Gavin Newsom is coming under fire for an executive order he signed that redirects voter-approved gas taxes initially designed to expand transportation and infrastructure repair projects to “climate change”-related projects not authorized by the voters.

SB1, proposed by Senate President Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, was a gas tax repeal initiative, called the “Road Repair and Accountability Act.”

Tax revenue from the bill would repair the state’s failing roads, highways, and bridges.

SB 1 was passed to “invest $54 billion over the next decade to fix roads, freeways, and bridges in communities across California and puts more dollars toward transit and safety,” according to RebuildingCA.gov. “These funds will be split equally between state and local investments.”

“California’s state-maintained transportation infrastructure is allocated half of the tax revenue of $26 billion; the other half is allocated to repair local roads, fund transit agencies and expand pedestrian and cycle routes.

In 2018, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 69, which requires that revenue from the diesel sales tax and Transportation Improvement Fee enacted by the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 only be used for transportation-related purposes.

It also exempts revenue generated by SB 1’s tax increases and fee schedules from the state appropriations limit.

Newsom’s Executive Order N-19-19 redirects gas tax money to fund railroad projects instead of highway expansion projects like fixing the congested Highway 99, critics say.

Additional north and south freeway lanes on Highway 99 in Tulare and Madera County were scrapped as a result.

“Instead of building capacity on our highways to move people and freight, Governor Newsom is funding his pet rail projects throughout the state,” state Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, said.

“This theft of funds meant to improve our roadways is a glimpse into the future of transportation in our state and Newsom continues to execute his September 2019 Climate Change Executive Order. The Central Valley is just the beginning. Other road projects will likely be next.”

“This is theft of our gas taxes by Executive Order,” Patterson added. “Governor Newsom is intentionally starving us out of our roads. Voters approved SB 1 with the promise that our crumbling highways would get the attention they deserve. Instead of building capacity, our gas tax funds are being siphoned off to fund Newsom’s favored pet-projects … Governor Newsom’s promise not to forget about the Central Valley is full of hot air, just like his climate plan.”

The order directs the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) to invest its annual portfolio of $5 billion toward construction, operations, and maintenance to help reverse the trend of increased fuel consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the transportation sector.

CalSTA released a statement in response, saying, “The state is confronting the climate crisis head-on. In doing so, Caltrans will use available transportation dollars to prioritize projects that manage congestion and reduce vehicle miles traveled in order to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

“Those who claim the state is canceling projects funded by gas tax dollars are incorrect. Aligning climate goals with transportation goals requires new thinking, not obstructionism. With the long lead time to plan, design, and construct transportation projects, we must act now to achieve our climate goals.”

“This is worse than a shell game or bait-and-switch,” Patterson posted on Facebook. “It is taxpayer theft by executive order. Promise voters that road taxes will fix our highways and streets, then siphon off $5 billion for his Climate Change plan – a new scheme to get us to give up our cars.”

Read more at Washington Examiner