27 Jan

Season 2, Episode 4 – Jerry Brown Likes Trains

In this episode, technical stupidity aside, we talk about Kevin Kiley again in regards to his 10 Questions for Governor Brown as well and Joshua rips a little into his 10 Reasons to vote for Kiley.

We also look at Gov. Jerry Brown’s final State of the State address, specifically this nonsense:

The funds that SB 1 makes available are absolutely necessary if we are going to maintain our roads and transit systems in good repair. Twenty-five other states have raised gas taxes. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has called for a federal gas tax because the highway trust fund is nearly broke.

Government does what individuals can’t do, like build roads and bridges and support local bus and light rail systems. This is our common endeavor by which we pool our resources through the public sector and improve all of our lives. Fighting a gas tax may appear to be good politics, but it isn’t. I will do everything in my power to defeat any repeal effort that may make it to the ballot.

Since I have talked about tunnels and transportation, I will bring up one more item of infrastructure: high-speed rail. I make no bones about it. I like trains and I like high-speed trains even better. So did the voters in 2008 when they approved the bond. Look, 11 other countries have high-speed trains. They are now taken for granted all over Europe, in Japan and in China. President Reagan himself said in Japan on November 11, 1983: “The State of California is planning to build a rapid speed train that is adapted from your highly successful bullet train.” Yes, we were, and now we are actually building it.

Like any big project, there are obstacles. There were for the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, for the Golden Gate Bridge and for the Panama Canal. But build it they did and build it we will — America’s first high-speed rail system. One link between San Jose and San Francisco — an electrified Caltrain — is financed and ready to go. Another billion, with matching funds, will be invested in Los Angeles to improve Union Station as a major transportation hub and fix the Anaheim corridor.

25 Apr

How Much Tax Money Do We Need for Mah Roads?

Gas Tax Increase Ahead

How much money do we need to raise yearly for our roads and infrastructure? If you listen to Governor Brown he’ll tell you that we have a $59Billion backlog of Highway Repairs with $71Billion in local repairs needed. That’s why we needed to pass SB1 because the new taxes are slated to raise $52Billion over 10 years.

Of course we have a backlog because the legislature is more interested in waste/fraud such as the Governor’s Legacy Choo-Choo than they are in actual repairs. That has historically been the case and it will continue to be the case. We never prioritize the basic functions of government or the items for which we specifically tax.

Need to repair the Oroville Dam? That can wait a decade or two. Want to give out tax credits so the 1% can buy Teslas? No problem. Priorities, you see.

But getting back to the math of SB1. If we have a $130Billion backlog is that on top of the repairs we ARE doing or is that just everything we haven’t done yet? Because the amount we need to raise varies based upon that answer.

It also matters because before we raise taxes we should really focus on how much money we’re already bringing in as well as where it’s going. If it isn’t going where it’s supposed to we need to change that and fire the people ripping us off. Let’s look at that first point.

Last year Los Angeles voters approved Measure M which is slated to raise $860Million/Year. Orange County’s Measure M took in approximately $300Million last year.

LA Measure M Impacts

In fact according to the California Department of Transportation as of 2014 there are  around 20 Counties that have passed similar measures.

County Sales Tax Increases

That says $3.793Billion for 2014. Los Angeles’ Measure M from 2016 isn’t included in that so that would add an additional $860Million taking the total to cool $4.65Billion.

I’m unsure of these numbers because I find it interesting that the chart says “2 Million” for Orange County when OCTA says (Page 145) we did $60,097,127,000 in commerce last year and .5% of that would be  $300,485,635 with 2014 (the date of this report) at nearly $278Million.

277 > 2.

OCTA CAFR

2014 Shows $277,939,000

It needs to be noted that those numbers are Sales Tax based and not based upon Gas Mileage and therefore didn’t drop with higher fuel efficiency. Also, those totals go to local city & county roads and not Federal or State projects.

But what about the dropping fuel taxes? Doesn’t that eat into our funding which is necessitating these new taxes?

Estimates that I’ve seen say that we’re using approximately 8-10% less in gas than 10 years ago thanks to more fuel efficient vehicles. That decrease has led to a drop in state gas tax revenue of about $200Million/year which is a lot.

However a drop doesn’t mean we aren’t getting enough to do the job the money is intended to do in the first place. If I win $10Million in the lottery and then it turns out that I had to split it and only won $5Million I’d still be able to do the many things I wanted to do with my windfall.

This is government logic though. First they misspend money. Then they enact legislation that decreases their own funding and finally they find other taxes to raise to start the cycle anew.

Seriously California gets between 85-90% (depending on the source) of the $0.18.4/Gallon Federal Excise Tax back from the Feds in the form of grant money (which isn’t bad considering how bad the State bends over Cities/Counties). If that 8-10% drop is true and we’re only using about 14Billion gallons of gas in CA how much are we getting?

Let’s Math.

$0.18/Gallon x 14Billion = $2,520,000,000.

$2,520,000,000 – 15% Fed Finders Fee = $2,142,000,000 per year from the Feds to pay for MAH ROADS.

Then we had Proposition 1B from 2006 which allowed for $19.9Billion in General Obligation Bonds for Infrastructure.

So less fuel is being used therefore we can say $2,142,000,000 x 10 fairly because today is less and therefore the smallest number. Between Prop 1B ($19,900,000,000) and the Federal Fuel Excise Tax ($21,420,000,000) over ten years we’ve blown through $41,320,000,000.

Plus the $2.95 Billion that those counties shown above have been getting each year through their sales tax increases (excluding the taxes that took place after 2006). That’s another $29,520,000,000 locally.

So now we’re up to $70,840,000,000 for Mah Roads since 2006. 70Billion. Seventy Billion! In ten years.

Plus the money we got from the “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009”. Plus Plus Plus.

We haven’t even begun talking about the Excise/Sales taxes paid inside California. Or the Vehicle License Fees. Or Diesel Fuel Taxes. Or Weight Fees. Or. Or. Or.

It seems we keep upping the amount of money that we raise for MAH ROADS but never manage to actually, you know, pay to fix them regardless of how much money is out of our pockets and on the table.

How much money do we have to collect before we actually spend it on what we claim we’re going to spend it on?

All of it. Obviously.