Coming soon to a pump near you: Nation's most expensive gasoline

By Senator Scott Wilk

California has long been a leader among states in the U.S. Our population, our economy – the world’s sixth largest, our innovative and revolutionary work in technology and aerospace, our system of higher education; the list goes on. But in just two weeks, we’ll dart ahead of the pack and lead the nation in one much less fortunate category; gasoline taxes.

That’s because. On November 1, despite my ‘No’ vote, Californian’s will be burdened with a new, 12 cent-per-gallon gas tax thanks to Senate Bill 1 – the majority party’s transportation plan passed this April.

Implemented by our Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown with no vote of the people this tax will reverberate throughout our state where the already highest-in-the-nation cost of living will now become that much more difficult to endure.

On top of that, they’re adding a new vehicle registration fee – that’s right, on top of the one we already pay each year – so it’ll now cost another $48 dollars for each Californian to register their car.

Governor Brown claims it’ll raise about $52 billion over the next ten years to fix our crumbling roads and highways once and for all, a laudable goal to be sure.

But we’ve been told this before. In fact, even before this new tax goes in to effect next year Californians already pay the highest gas taxes and vehicle registration fees in the nation; all ostensibly for road repair.

Problem is the majority party has for years siphoned that money away from our roads and used it to fund pet projects like the high speed rail project.  So what assurances do we have they won’t do that again? None.

The day the Democrats passed the gas tax, they also passed legislation that would create a ‘lockbox’ so they would be prevented from stealing the money, giving us some assurances for once.  The catch?  The lockbox doesn’t get sealed until January 1, 2018.

A few weeks later during the state budget process the Democrats stole about 30 percent of the new gas tax money from the ‘lockbox’. They redirected this funding to such things at the state parks system and job training for felons!

In other words, this new tax and its ‘lockbox’ are a slight-of-hand shell game. A money grab of epic proportions that will not result in a noticeable, long term solution to the plague of dilapidation that has haunted California’s roadways.

Instead, I fear this money, like all the money they’ve taken before, will be mismanaged and wasted on pie-in-the-sky social engineering programs, and how will they respond? By coming back to us with one hand out and the other sneaking in to our pocket until we have nothing left to give and still no solution to our transportation woes.

And perhaps the worst part, it didn’t have to be this way.

Earlier this year, along with some of my Republican colleagues in the Legislature, we developed a plan to fix our roads without raising taxes a single cent, by returning our gas taxes and registration fees to their intended purpose, road repairs.

We didn’t have to raise taxes and fees. We didn’t have to put this burden on the backs of ordinary Californians. And we didn’t have to bounce our way to work each day on America’s nastiest highways.

The fact is the Democrat majority doesn’t care about roads, but they do care about their own pet projects. They purposely starve needed priorities like our children’s education, water infrastructure and roads to entice good-willed Californians into supporting additional taxes.

I will continue to fight for real solutions to grow our economy and fix our transportation problems as I know too many people need to travel down the hill to work. They shouldn’t be penalized with higher taxes because Sacramento politicians haven’t done their job.