Q: Your recent rah-rah piece on the crushing backlog of repairs needed on our roads (and the new 12-cent a gallon tax) will start some of the fixes, lacked one component of honest reporting.
You neglected to remind your loyal readers that money from previous gas taxes was diverted (stolen) to fund other items, causing the current billions shortfall.
Did you conveniently overlook that part so as to not ruffle the feathers of the bureaucrats who feed you much of the info that you need for your column?
A: No, and Randy-the-MTC-Man calls this a myth, saying:
It’s not all that surprising that Mr. Cook is reacting to a falsehood — the myth that transportation funds have been diverted. The facts are quite the opposite.
Over many years, transportation interests have been able to transfer general fund monies into transportation in two ways.
One was the issuance of state General Fund Obligation bonds specified for transportation purposes to be repaid from the state General Fund.
Instead of, for example, an increase in the gas tax, which is a way better policy and is traditionally how transportation projects are funded with public transit sometimes being an exception. These General Fund bonds are now being repaid from weight fees as part of a larger deal – including the deal to pass SB 1 (the gas tax bill) to try to settle this whole mess.
The second way, and more to the point of your reader’s confusion has to do with the sales tax on gasoline.
Gov. Ronald Reagan imposed a statewide sales tax on gas for the expressed purpose of supporting the General Fund.
The California Legislature, in 1990, given the large surpluses generated by the economy, eventually adopted a Republican idea, later championed by Gov. Gray Davis, to transfer a portion of the revenues generated by the sales tax of gas, to transportation under certain budget…