SACRAMENTO – Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) today made the following comments during the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing’s informational hearing regarding the impacts of Senate Bill 1, the $52 billion transportation proposal that imposes permanent new gas taxes and user fees on motorists.
“I did not support SB 1 and am sad that the Assembly Republican plan, which accomplished many of the same goals, but without raising taxes, was never even given a committee hearing.
“I think on every issue, but especially issues that are going to pull tens of billions of dollars out of taxpayer pockets, it’s important that multiple solutions are discussed, not simply accepting that we need higher taxes right away and then simply debating how high those taxes will be and who pays them.
“This new gas tax will be a huge burden on my district, which is poor and where people in the rural areas drive vast distances all the time. It will hurt commuters in my urban areas. It will hurt businesses and families. But now it’s the law, and we owe it to those families who will bear the brunt of this to get it right, to not waste a single penny.
“So as we look at the unfolding of SB 1, let’s vow to maintain vigorous oversight of CalTrans, whose overstaffing was estimated to cost the state $500 million a year several years ago. That’s unacceptable.
“California is spending about 2.5 times more to build roads than the national average. I think the people deserve a more cost-effective road construction regimen here for the SB 1 money they are forced to pay. We need to attack those higher costs so Californians are getting value for their money.
“I understand that rail transit is desirable for some locations, but in my largely rural district it’s never going to make any sense, yet their gas taxes are going to pay for billions in rail expansion. That is tough to justify to my district, to people who are scraping to get by, that they are going to be paying for rail in wealthy urban areas that they will never use.
“The active transportation plan and complete streets are also not meaningful in most of my district. My constituents aren’t complaining about a lack of sidewalks or bike lanes. They want the potholes fixed and bumps knocked down. A sidewalk in these parts of the state would be unnecessary and wasteful. Yet, my constituents’ gas taxes are going to pay for them elsewhere.
“SB 1 was supposedly a response to a crisis in our roads. Not in our parks, or sidewalks, or rail systems. Let’s do all we can to repair and expand our road system, for fairness, and also to reflect that 95 percent of travel is road travel.”