Reservoirs and rivers are overflowing as storms have pounded California this winter, and after years of drought that should be good news. The problem is that misguided environmentalism is wasting the water windfall and failing to store it for a non-rainy day.
Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators have caused a stir with their plan to increase taxes to pay for the state’s unquestionably decrepit infrastructure of roads and bridges. Instead of thinking of this as a new transportation tax, however, Californians should see it as a pension tax, given the extra money plugs a hole caused by growing retirement payments to public employees. Consider this sobering news from the CalMatters’ Judy Lin in January: “New projections show the state’s annual bill for retirement obligations is expected to reach $11 billion by the time Brown leaves office in January 2019 – nearly double what it was eight years earlier.” That’s the state’s “annual bill,” i.e., the direct costs taken from the general-fund budget. That number doesn’t even include those “unfunded” pension liabilities that according to some estimates top $1 trillion. That’s more than double the $5.2 billion a year the Brown administration hopes to raise from a plan that would boost gas taxes by 12 cents a gallon, raise the vehicle-license fee by $25 to $175 a year (depending on the value of the vehicle), impose a $100 annual fee on electric cars because they don’t currently pay gas taxes and include a large hike on diesel fuel. Money is fungible, so if the state overspends on pensions, it has to make it up somewhere else.
California's governor and legislative leaders on Wednesday proposed raising $52 billion to fix the state's roads through a big gasoline tax increase, higher car registration fees and a charge on emission-free vehicles.
The 10-year plan would boost gasoline excise taxes for the first time in more than two decades, raising them 12 cents per gallon — a 43 percent increase. The tax would rise automatically with inflation.
California will need billions of dollars in new funding for housing and transportation improvements, and to make extraordinary changes to state and local government policies, in order to meet its new 2030 climate change goals, according to new reports from state and regional government officials and UC Berkeley researchers.