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High Speed Rail Funding Won’t Help Roads

Sacramento, CA — Senator Bob Huff’s (R San Dimas) legislation to fund new and existing road and highway construction was defeated in the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Development Committee. The committee vote this afternoon was along party lines with three republicans for it and nine democrats against.

SBX1 2 sought to shift $1.9 billion in cap and trade taxes imposed on gasoline away from high speed rail to fund road, highway and bridge work. The measure was proposed in the Special Session on Transportation set up by the Governor. Senator Tom Berryhill voiced his support in his blog July Bulletin: Roads And More here.

Senator Huff said during today’s committee hearing, “Californians already pay some of the highest transportation taxes in the country, yet our roads are in terrible shape. Using cap and trade funds to move cars and trucks more efficiently on California’s roads and highways will reduce gas consumption and reduce greenhouse gases.”

The California Energy Commission estimates that putting gasoline under the cap is costing consumers ten cents per gallon. The higher cost was not approved by voters nor by support of two-thirds of the Legislature like other taxes. The increase in price is related to AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 passed by the legislature. See the video for more details.

Sen. Huff says “Even though Republicans disagree with this hidden cap and trade gas tax, motorists are still paying for it and they deserve some sort of benefit from it.” He noted California has “An estimated $59 billion in deferred road maintenance, California ranks 45th in overall highway performance and is home to the two most congested urban areas in the nation. Annually, highway repair and maintenance is underfunded by $5 billion and local street repair by another $1.8 billion.”

The legislature continues to debate other ways to fund highway repair and maintenance. The Republican plan was outlined in a news story here and additional proposals are here.