Transportation funding is a very touchy subject in our state. We have factions with different sets of priorities and projects across our state that local agencies want to see funded. The main source of transportation funding is through gasoline taxes in California, but due to environmental regulations and punitive gasoline tax increases from the 2021 increase in AB 398 the sales of gasoline will eventually decline, and legislators are looking for new ways of funding.
The problem is the solution of the vehicle mileage tax which is gradually going to be implemented in our state with SB 1328. Although its designed to be a replacement for funding transportation services in our state it is also can be designed to limit our freedoms as a people in California.
I could understand that we want people using alternative fuels to also pay their share of the costs of using our roads in the state, but the environmental faction does not want the common people driving. California has been a state designed on the car since the invention of the mass market automobile nearly a century ago where state and regional leaders want to transform the culture in our state to public transportation instead of people relying on their cars even if they are electric or hydrogen.
If a VMT is proposed, we need to make sure there are consumer protections such as the government has no right to turnoff one’s right to drive if one drives too much. Government would be prohibited from charging people for the right to use their car on top of VMT such as having to pay for a 10-dollar day pass to use your car. There should be prohibitions on overuse pricing. You simply pay what you drive. I am also worried that VMT will be bad on the privacy angle as well where government will have an easier time to track you down.
If we were going to implement the VMT in California I would use the baseline of 40 miles per gallon to help calculate the cost of taxation. 1.5 cents a mile would be the cost in our state that would be the cost that would include federal and state taxes at the same time at current prices.
However, VMT should not be immediately implemented unless gasoline tax receipts decline more than 30% in a three-year period. Politicians usually like to implement solutions in search of a problem such as the misguided attempts in trying to regulate home schooling earlier in 2018.
The other problem that comes with transportation funding is how our legislature uses the funding. Motorists pay the brunt of the taxes, but the legislature does not want to fund the roads. The irony is public transportation buses use the roads, but how can public bus services have a good service without good roads? The transportation improvement fee that is added to vehicle registration does not go to roads at all. I can understand that alternative transportation needs to be funded, but we should be honest with the people of California. It seems we simply just use transportation funding to milk more taxation out of the people of California when we need to use what we have today better before asking for money tomorrow.
SB1 from 2017 has some road improvement projects, but we still need more for our communities and our state because the funding is irresponsibly apportioned. If I was a gambling man I would bet my opponent and her friends will ask for more taxes from the people of our state for the roads that do not go to roads and then the cycle would repeat again before her tenure as a state senator concludes.