The highest-paid governor in the nation, California Governor Jerry Brown, thinks opponents of his $52 billion dollar gas tax hike are “freeloaders.”
The statement comes in response to California Assemblyman Travis Allen’s efforts to keep taxpayer dollars in the hands of the individual. The assemblyman has spearheaded a movement to delay the implementation of a $52 billion tax increase, demanding that the tax first be subject to a ballot measure.
Governor Brown, who makes over $190,000 per year ($52,685 more than the average gubernatorial salary), had harsh words for the assemblyman and his supporters in a speech last week.
The Orange County Register reports:
“The freeloaders — I’ve had enough of them,” Brown said, adding that the approved tax and fee hikes bring those charges to the level they were 30 years ago if adjusted for inflation. “They have a president that doesn’t tell the truth and they’re following suit.”
At 38 cents per gallon, Californians currently pay the seventh highest gas taxes in the country. Beginning November 1, that figure is set to increase by over 30%. At the same time, vehicle registration fees will increase by up to $175.
Brown continued, “Roads require money to fix. Republicans say there’s a magic source of money — it doesn’t exist . . . You want to borrow money and pay double? Or do nothing? Or take money from universities?”
Roads do require money to fix, as Californian taxpayers are well aware. A recent study by the Reason Foundation reveals California spends a stunning $419,090 per state-controlled mile of highway; in comparison, South Carolina spends just $35,286.
Still, throwing money at a problem is not a substitute for good governance. Despite immense transportation spending, a 2016 study by the national transportation research group TRIP finds that only 21% of California roads are in good condition. The Reason Foundation ranks California 42nd in the nation in highway performance and cost-effectiveness.
In fact, a report by the California State Auditor accuses the California Department of Transportation of having weak cost controls that create “opportunities for fraud, waste, and abuse.” The report exposes:
“[T]he maintenance division never implemented a budget model (model) that it paid $250,000 to develop in 2009. Use of that model would have allowed the maintenance division to identify the resources needed to maintain highways . . . although the maintenance division never implemented its model, the division has been reporting to the Legislature that it is using this sophisticated model.”
Not subject to the increased gas taxes will be bicyclists, who utilize California’s roadways but do not pay for their maintenance. California allocates $7.2 million annually to the Bicycle Transportation Authority, which builds and maintains bike lanes and ensures secure bicycle parking. Yet, according to Governor Brown, overtaxed motorists are the “freeloaders.”
California Assemblyman Matthew Harper writes, “Our roads are in terrible shape, but it is not because of a lack of funding, it is because many in Sacramento would rather grab more money than spend what they already have.”
Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown is content to blame California’s crumbling infrastructure on the “freeloading” taxpayer. Brown expects that, in the end, Californians will support his $52 billion tax hike. “Maybe people like gravel roads, but I don’t think so.”
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