Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
August 22, 2015

  • Levies on California motorists among nation’s highest
  • State highways still among the worst
  • What should be done about it?

A cogent – and perhaps unanswerable – question punctuates the political machinations over raising billions of new dollars to repair California’s deteriorating highways.

How is it that California motorists are paying some of the nation’s highest fuel taxes, but the highways they use are among the nation’s worst?

Including federal gas taxes, Californians are paying just under 61 cents a gallon, the fourth highest in the nation. That doesn’t include another dime a gallon in “cap-and-trade” carbon fees that, if added, would make California the highest-taxing state.

Meanwhile, data from the Federal Highway Administration place California’s highways as among the worst in physical condition.

Gov. Jerry Brown says the state needs another $59 billion over 10 years for maintenance and repair. He is pushing legislators to act while portraying himself as a “brooding omnipresence” overseeing the work.

But back to the question.

Gasoline and diesel fuel taxes generate about $4.5 billion a year for state and local governments. Overall, the Department of Transportation will spend $10.5 billion during the current year, a third of which comes from fuel taxes and truck weight fees, with most of the rest coming from Washington.

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