Roger Schmidt: California roads don’t suffer from lack of money

December 10, 2013 


A road maintenance worker pours asphalt into a pothole in Turlock. State and local taxes repair local roads.

FILE — The Modesto Bee Buy Photo

Before The Bee stakes its opinion (“ Funding to fix rough roads scarce,” Our View, Dec. 9) on lack of money to fix California’s roads, consider that in addition to the 39.5 cents per gallon excise tax collected by the state, there is also 18.4 cents of federal taxes and a 22-cent sales tax on each gallon. That adds up to at 79.9 cents per gallon in taxes.

California is ranked No. 1 in road tax and No. 1 in bad roads. The editorial also put the miles driven in 2004 at 15.9 billion compared to 14.5 billion in 2013. The state collected $5.7 billion in excise taxes, but they failed to mention $2.67 billion in federal money – not counting sales taxes of close to $2.8 billion.

The editorial stated that more miles mean more damage to roads. In 2003 the average car weighed 4,066 pounds; in 2004 many Americans drove Suburbans weighing more than 7,200 pounds. Today, people drive cars half that weight. These lighter-weight cars means that, in reality, there is about 40 percent less car weight on the roads now than there was in 2003.

California registers 31,249,524 vehicles. The cheapest registration fee is $124 for a 20-year-old car; $300 for a new car and up to $900 for a pickup. So at what point do we hold California accountable for fixing roads? Drivers in Midwestern states pay about 42-48 cents per gallon and they have bad weather to contend with.



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