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L.A. Mayor Says Gas Taxes Are Needed to Fix Roads While Standing in Front of Rail Station Funded By Gas Taxes

Opponents of reducing California's gasoline tax are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/NewscomRonen Tivony/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/NewscomOpponents of Proposition 6, a California ballot initiative that would repeal the state's recent $5-billion-a-year gasoline tax increase, are playing a difficult double game. They argue that any additional money motorists pay at the pump is needed to fix the state's dilapidated roads and bridges, while insisting that eliminating the revenue will jeopardize mass transit projects those motorists don't use.

Yesterday, for instance, Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti gave a full-throated endorsement to the No on Prop. 6 campaign while standing in front of a $150 million train station funded by the gas tax hike. "If we see this repealed, we will pay—make no mistake," Garcetti said. "We'll pay in lives, we'll pay in dollars, we'll pay in broken axles, we'll pay in popped tires, we'll pay during earthquakes." He was surrounded by hardhat-wearing construction workers waving signs reading "stop the attack on road and bridge safety."

A news release promoting that event mentions rail funding in passing before listing a bunch of highway projects threatened by the ballot initiative. On Twitter, Garcetti warned that "California's #Prop6 would delay or eliminate 900 L.A. projects that are working to ease congestion, fix local roads, and improve bridge safety."

The official No on Prop. 6 campaign also has been leaning heavily on the road funding angle. This week saw a new ad blitz featuring the hardhat-wearing president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Kristina Swallow, arguing that "crumbling bridges and roads put lives at risk every day" and that a repeal of the gas tax would cost Los Angeles some $6.3 billion in dedicated transportation funding. The ad does not mention how much of this transportation funding is actually mass transit funding. The answer is a lot.

In April, L.A. Metro, Los Angeles County's main transportation agency, was awarded some $330 million, mostly from gas taxes, for a slate of rail and other mass transit projects. The city of Los Angeles got another $33 million to buy new electric buses. Intercity rail connecting San Diego and Los Angeles got another $180 million in these grants. L.A. Metro has warned that if Prop. 6 succeeds, the agency will lose some $4.9 billion in grants.

These projects are getting scant mention in gas tax proponents' messaging in the lead-up to Election Day, and it's not hard to understand why. Some 83 percent of Californian workers drive to work (either alone or in some form of car or van pool) on some of the nation's worst-maintained, most congested roads, while paying the second highest gas taxes in the country.

Whatever hope gas tax proponents have of getting these motorists to vote for keeping their gas taxes so high rests on convincing them that the new money will pay for road repair and maintenance. Highlighting the billions of dollars of gas tax revenue being siphoned away from these repairs to pay for mass transit does not make that task any easier.

At the same time, getting urban liberals, environmentalists, and other members of the pro-transit coalition to show up and vote no on the gas tax repeal requires occasional references to all those rail and bus projects. Walking this tightrope requires press conferences like Garcetti's, where all the talk is about road repair, while in the literal background is nothing but gas-tax-funded transit.

Photo Credit: Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto/Sipa USA/Newscom

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    He was surrounded by hardhat-wearing construction workers waving signs reading "stop the attack on road and bridge safety."

    I was looking for the Union thug lurking in the background. Yep, there he is.

  • DiegoF||

    I was looking for the Union thug lurking in the background.

    Abe Lincoln wore a stovepipe hat, not a hardhat, good sir.

  • SIV||

    At least this post isn't by Robert Poole proposing tolls AND GPS trackers on all vehicles to triple-fund those crumbling roads.

  • BYODB||

    There's only one fix for L.A.'s road issues:


    Nuke them from orbit and start over.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    :)

  • A Thinking Mind||

    It's the only way to be sure.

  • MoreFreedom||

    The big one might just lower most of LA into the ocean and fix the problem, as an alternative.

    Californians get what they vote for, good and hard. Seems more gas taxes there lead to more government funding of little used mass transit (but it's good for politicians handing out contracts and hiring workers), more congestion, and more gas taxes. Then the mass transit loses money, leading to more taxes.

  • DiegoF||

    Even in Commiefornia (sorry Sevo but you should see what I say about my own state) there is such a thing as overreach, even today.

    Red Cali will turn out in droves for this, especially since they were failed to shut out of the statewide ballot. Despite my pessimism nationwide, I predict a surprise tiny minicomeback in the CAGOP's fortunes this fall. You just need a few shy-voter SoCal suburbanites to secretly carry the day. The radical, ideological, unthinking hatred of cars that animates the fanatical mass transit movement (and I am a lifelong subway rider and hardcore buff) is no secret to a yuppie crowd that will not be so woke as to be themselves inconvenienced. They are too exposed and well known, they cannot speak out of both sides of their mouth like this when the well-known center of their entire schtick is that cars and transit are locked in a zero sum eternal struggle for power. I still think Cali has enough of Old Cali in it to defeat this.

  • DiegoF||

    Indeed, it appears Prop 6 is absolutely killing it in the polls. I think Sevo would pull more votes in the Castro than No on 6 is going to do at the ballot box.

  • ||

    People were a little pissed that the gas tax hike was followed very closely by a huge transportation bond. Even progressives are starting to scratch their heads and say "where is all this money going?"

  • SQRLSY One||

    The money is going into the LOVE of all of us peons that Government Almighty FEELZ for all of us peons, you philistine, you!

    Scienfoology Song… GAWD = Government Almighty's Wrath Delivers

    Government loves me, This I know,
    For the Government tells me so,
    Little ones to GAWD belong,
    We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

    GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
    Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
    Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
    And gives me all that I might need!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

    DEA, CIA, KGB,
    Our protectors, they will be,
    FBI, TSA, and FDA,
    With us, astride us, in every way!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
    My Nannies tell me so!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The city of Los Angeles got another $33 million to buy new electric buses.

    Has anyone looked at these buses to study whether they actually reduce greenhouse gases or other environmental impacts?

  • Longtobefree||

    Doesn't matter. They are buses and allow the politicians to control when and where the citizens get to go. That is a good thing to those politicians.

    (But the answer is no, they do not make a significant reduction if you actually include all impacts from manufacture through battery disposal)

  • ||

    Has anyone looked at these buses to study whether they actually reduce greenhouse gases or other environmental impacts?

    DENIER!

  • TangoDelta||

    100 denier, 150 denier, what? While we're on the topic, what does the fineness of yarn have to do with any of this?

  • Overt||

    Honestly, I would be happy if they spend money on buses. A mass transit system based on buses requires the same infrastructure (roads) that the other 85% of commuters in this state require. Whenever I see a lightrail interchange being built at an intersection for $100 Million, my blood boils. They spend all this money to basically monopolize 2 lanes of traffic for wealthy DINKs and the rich developers who sell them mixed retail lofts directly adjacent to the stations. In the process, they create dangerous, confusing 5 point intersections with blinking lights and often-broken swing arm gates. Light rail is the city planner's analog of shoving a square peg through a round hole.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I don't have any problem with buses either, but I did some reading after I posted the above link, and the electric buses cost $300,000 MORE than traditional buses, so it appears while they may put less CO2 into the atmosphere, their cost-effectiveness is probably not there.

  • BigT||

    They put more CO2 in the air...in Arizona where the electricity is generated.

  • Michael Cox||

    Wealthy DINKs *DO NOT* ride buses. Please. Unwashed masses, etc.

  • MoreFreedom||

    Other than building roads, I'd be happy if the government just got out of the transportation business. Let entrepreneurs setup their own buses, jitneys, Ubers, Lyft, scooters or whatever. If it doesn't pay for itself, it's not worth it.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    How can we evaluate the net effect of the buses without using

  • sharmota4zeb||

    .... MATH, the tool of the patriarchy!

  • Uncle Jay||

    Yeah, that's what LA needs.
    More taxes and more gas...especially from the politicians there.

  • ||

  • DiegoF||

    Fools! You are supposed to funnel public funds to an "independent nonpartisan nonprofit" before they are used to influence elections.

  • Careless||

    There's no way that California's roads are among the worst maintained, given the weather where people in the state actually live.

  • MoreFreedom||

    You apparently have never visited the corrupt socialist paradise of Puerto Rico.

  • esteve7||

    Fuck those people. I live in California with all the shit roads, because they steal the gas tax money that is supposed to go to roads and use it to fund their progressive crap. No one gives a damn about light rail, at least no one rides it, and it gets way more money than it deserves. But because of fucks like them, they WANT to roads to be bad so you will HAVE to use light rail or whatever BS they come up with.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    You sound like someone who would be happier in Mississippi, Utah, Alabama, or Idaho.

  • paris1||

    Finally; someone at Reason.com woke up and realized this initiative was on the ballot! For once, we libertarians need to get behind this legislation.

  • BigT||

    Reason been woke for a while.

  • DiegoF||

    I applaud this development, and hope that Cali's green-authoritarians and general goo-goo-urban-planning-technocrat-authoritarians throw as much money as possible into the No on 6 sinkhole. If that West Coast Mike Bloomberg, whatever the fuck his name is, is reading this: Please, good Sir, the birds and fishes and drowning Maldivians are counting on YOU to donate as many of your billions as possible to STOP this abomination for the sake of the planet we all share! Grateful Californians will raise you on their compostable shields and make you the next governor by acclimation!

  • ||

    If that West Coast Mike Bloomberg, whatever the fuck his name is,

    Tom Steyer.

    *spits*

  • Sevo||

    Steyer is a crony-cap, grabbing taxpayer money for scam 'energy production', and campaigning for same, claiming the high moral ground.
    While those involved in actually providing energy from fossil fuels are derided if the offer any support for that effort.
    The left is nothing if not hypocritic.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    The official No on Prop. 6 campaign also has been leaning heavily on the road funding angle. This week saw a new ad blitz featuring the hardhat-wearing president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Kristina Swallow, arguing that "crumbling bridges and roads put lives at risk every day" ...

    Yep, and just imagine how your kids will turn out after 12 years in schools run by the same government. Can we archive all these soundbites to put in a mashup video during School Choice Week?

  • IceTrey||

    This is delicious.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Walking this tightrope requires press conferences like Garcetti's, where all the talk is about road repair, while in the literal background is nothing but gas-tax-funded transit.

    Voters with cars tend to be in relatively suburban school districts where people pay attention to words. Voters without cars tend to be in relatively urban school districts where people pay attention to pictures. N'ufff said.

  • OverWandersTelcon-tarian||

    "We'll work up a No on 6 on 'em!"

  • Sevo||

    "This week saw a new ad blitz featuring the hardhat-wearing president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Kristina Swallow, arguing that "crumbling bridges and roads put lives at risk every day""

    But we got tons of money for bike lanes used by maybe tens of people.

  • CDRSchafer||

    Bike lanes in California, also known as "assisted suicide".

  • Sevo||

    "Bike lanes in California, also known as "assisted suicide"."
    The idiots riding them rarely need assistance.
    Turn on the right turn signal, but check the right mirror. Some fucking ignoramus on a bike is trying to pass you on the right as we speak! And he (mostly) will bang on your fender for your impertinence of signaling and making a right turn in front of such a socially-award asshole.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

  • Sevo||

    I'm sure you found that funny.

  • DRM||

    Texas Gas Tax Rank: 44th
    Texas Infrastructure Rank: 1st

    California Gas Tax Rate: 2nd
    California Infrastructure Rank: 24th

  • BigT||

    Um...
    PA gas tax 1st
    PA infra 37th

    No cronyism like old cronyism.

  • DevilDog943||

    If the infrastructure rank in Texas is indeed "1st", the other states must be truly horrible in roadway quality. Traffic tieups and road quality in major Texas cities are very bad, Dallas, for example, has torn up streets being 'repaired' for years, presenting motorists with cratered surfaces to drive on or closed streets to detour around.

    The last time I was in California, a few years ago, freeways from LA to Sacramento (US101 and I5) seemed to be in decent condition. I cannot comment on road quality inside the cities other than there are far too many cars driven by idiots who are unable to pilot a vehicle at more than the most basic level.

  • Jerry B.||

    Next they'll be telling us that all the money from the lottery that's supposed to go to support the schools isn't going to support the schools.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Well, it was always a gamble.

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