Bill Introduced to Stop $19.5 Billion in Highway Repair Funds from Paying Off High Speed Rail Debt

by Assemblyman Patterson : ad23.asmrc – excerpt

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

SACRAMENTO – Legislation was introduced Tuesday to prevent the High Speed Rail Authority from using tax dollars intended to improve California’s roadways to pay off billions of dollars in bond debt created by the controversial project.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) authored AB 65 to ensure taxes and fees collected in the State Highway Account to repair the state’s crumbling streets, highways and roads are not used by the High Speed Rail Authority to pay off Prop 1A bond debt. The principal and interest payments will cost taxpayers $19.5 billion over the next 30 years, a figure omitted by the High Speed Rail Authority in every report but confirmed by the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

The legislature gave the Rail Authority the green light to use funds from the State Highway Account in 2009, despite knowing full well the looming need to use those funds to repair millions of miles of crumbling roadways driven by Californians. These funds are collected from sales and excise taxes as well as gas taxes and truck weight fees. The State Highway Account has been historically used for highway and road repairs.

“Governor Brown ordered a halt to road projects claiming the state didn’t have enough money to complete them,” Assemblyman Patterson said. “Now he and the legislature plan to use $19.5 billion of those very road funds – they claim they don’t have – to pay off high speed rail bond debt instead of fixing our roads and highways. The people never approved such a scheme when they voted on High Speed Rail. Yet those in charge in Sacramento will do it any way while still demanding higher taxes from drivers. This is a blatant bait and switch that would amount to fraud if anyone in the private sector did the same thing.”

On Tuesday the High Speed Rail Authority approved the taking of Prop 1A money. This marks the beginning of an unchecked process drawing down billions of dollars to pay High Speed Rail bond debt – money that could be used to repair our streets, highways, roads and bridges right now.

Assemblyman Patterson also re-introduced AB 66, legislation which received unanimous, bipartisan support to force greater transparency on the Authority but was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill requires the Authority to provide details about the cost, scope, and schedule of each project segment to make it easier to track changes in the project as well as include financing costs in all future business plans… (more)

Assemblyman Patterson (R-Fresno) represents the 23rd Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes communities in Fresno and Tulare County.

Transit crisis in San Francisco

Op-ed by By Gerald Cauthen : sfexaminer – excerpt

Joshua Sabatini provides a nice summary of what The City’s transportation planners want to do to reduce traffic congestion in San Francisco. The problem with their plans is that they won’t work. What is being proposed is akin to trying to fly an airliner using just the ailerons. What’s currently in vogue in San Francisco illustrates what’s wrong with City Hall’s response to its growing transportation crisis.

Most transportation planning are left to people who are well-intentioned but inexperienced. As a result, the proposed solutions tend to be half-baked and over-simplified:

“San Franciscans drive too much; we must walk more.”

“The restraints on parking will ease traffic.”

“More people should ride Muni.”

“We need more bicycle lanes.”

All of these warrant discussion and consideration, but none come even close to fully addressing the real problem. If people are to leave their cars at home, there will have to be non-automotive travel alternatives that work. Here are some considerations that tend to get shoved under the rug:

• Good decisions are not made by the seat-of-the-pants. One has to ask: What works; what doesn’t? What has been shown to work elsewhere? What is cost-effective? What are the alternatives? These essential elements of good planning tend to get lost in a seemingly endless series of politically inspired “bright ideas.”… (more)