The Sept. 25 issue carried a column by Tehachapi City Manager Greg Garrett dealing with the history of SB I, the gas tax. Garrett somewhat fairly outlined how we got where we are with this egregious, and borderline "illegal" tax, but his cozy attitude does not match reality.
When the 12 1/2 cents per gallon gas tax (20 cents per gallon on diesel) was laid on last year, Gov. Brown "winked" and said the money would go to Caltrans and be used for road repair and maintenance. He then directed the state treasurer to deposit these tax dollars into the general fund, instead of earmarking them for Caltrans. An internal audit in June shows that less than 20 percent of all these funds have been spent on road repair, while more than 60 percent have been directed to Brown's pet project, the bullet train (original cost estimate $32 billion, now $92 billion as of July.
When asked pointedly about Proposition Six on this year's ballot, Brown has claimed that Caltrans "needs" the money, and "anyone who votes yes on six is a freeloader." Yet, for every dollar spent (on average by the other 49 states) on a mile of road maintenance, Caltrans spends $5. Further, the recent state audit reveals that at time of audit, "over 3,500 employees at Caltrans had no project to work on." Still to come, hidden language in the existing tax bill SB I calls for an automatic annual increase in fuel taxes beginning Jan. 1. This is Sacramento oversight, and Brown skullduggery.
This bottomless pool appetite needs to be curbed. Does Garrett ever stop to wonder where the $257K "from the state" will come from? Instead of an open funnel, a little cost control is what Caltrans needs!!
Vote yes on six.
James L. Turner, Tehachapi