California drivers brace for costly new global warming gas tax

August 29, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

This state has gone mad. We’re doing everything to drive prosperity away in pursuit of “progressive” fantasies.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Gasoline_taxNeal Kaye writes | Californians already pay the nation’s second highest gas tax at 68 cents a gallon — and now it will go up again in January to pay for a first-in-the-nation climate change law.

“I didn’t know that,” said Los Angeles motorist Tyler Rich. “It’s ridiculous.”

“I think it’s terrible,” added Lupe Sanchez, pumping $4.09-a-gallon gas at a Chevron near Santa Monica. “The economy, the way it is right now with jobs and everything, it’s just crazy.”

When gas prices go up, motorists typically blame oil companies, Arab sheiks and Wall Street speculators. This time they can blame Sacramento and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for passing a bill requiring California to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/08/27/california-hidden-gas-tax/

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Some notes: gasoline in California will be subject to California’s Global Warming Solutions Act tax (Schwarzenegger signed AB 32 into law in 2006) which will boost the…

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Repeal the Gas Tax…and Get Rid of the Department of Transportation

May 9, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

It’s a good start. The way to end cronyist corruption in DC is to take the money away.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

More than three years ago, I wrote that the Department of Transportation should be dismantled for the simple reason that we’ll get better roads at lower cost with the federalist approach of returning responsibility to state and local governments.

I echoed those sentiments in this CNBC interview.

Since there’s only an opportunity to exchange soundbites in these interviews, let me elaborate on some of the reasons why transportation should be a state and local responsibility.

1. Washington involvement is a recipe for pork and corruption. Lawmakers in Congress – including Republicans – get on the Transportation Committees precisely because they can buy votes and raise campaign cash by diverting taxpayer money to friends and cronies.

mitchells-first-theorem-of-government2. Washington involvement in transportation is just the tip of the iceberg. As I said in the interview, the federal budget is mostly a scam where endless streams of money are shifted back and…

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#HSR: California high-speed rail boondoggle lowers revenue projections

April 15, 2014
Boondoggle

Boondoggle

Can someone please just shoot this project and put it out of our misery?

In a new business plan submitted to state legislators last week, the California High-Speed Rail Authority offered lower revenue projections than it had two years before, predicting that revenue will be “5 percent lower than originally projected by 2025 and 10 percent lower by 2040,” according to a report by Sacramento’s KCRA.com.

So, let’s see. Costs are higher than projected (pace the HSRA), the train won’t be as fast as projected, even Democrats are breaking with Governor Jerry Brown over the project, and now revenues, which are supposed to pay back the billions we’re borrowing for this thing, won’t meet initial projections.

Explain to me just why Brown deserves reelection? I’m waiting… smiley well I'm waiting

RELATED: Past posts on Uncle Jerry’s high-speed choo-choo.


#HSR: Jerry Brown’s high-speed choo-choo not so high-speed

March 28, 2014
Boondoggle

Boondoggle

Via The American Interest, the LA Times reports that California’s high-speed rail project may not be able to meet its promised travel times — shocker!

Regularly scheduled service on California’s bullet train system will not meet anticipated trip times of two hours and 40 minutes between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and are likely to take nearly a half-hour longer, a state Senate committee was told Thursday.

The faster trips were held out to voters in 2008 when they approved $9 billion in borrowing to help pay for the project. Since then, a series of political compromises and planning changes designed to keep the $68-billion line moving ahead have created slower track zones in urban areas.

But Louis Thompson, chairman of the High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group, a state-sanctioned panel of outside experts, testified that “real world engineering issues” will cause schedules for regular service to exceed the target of two hours and 40 minutes. The state might be able to demonstrate a train that could make the trip that fast, but not on scheduled service, he told lawmakers. If public demand for the service supports additional investments, travel times could be improved after the currently planned system is built, he said.

Critics of the project have long disputed whether travel times between the Bay Area and Los Angeles will meet the mark of two hours and 40 minutes. Projected trip times for the bullet train are a point of contention in a court fight that could block the state’s access to the voter-approved bond funds.

So we have huge cost overruns, property seized to make way for the train, and now the revelation that it won’t even be all that “high-speed.” Genius. Future generations of dictionaries will include the California high-speed rail authority’s logo in their definition of “boondoggle.”

The puzzling thing is, neither the bullet train fiasco, the ongoing corruption saga, nor the fact that the state is bleeding jobs and businesses is making a dent in Governor Brown and the Democratic Party’s control over the state. But then it becomes not so puzzling when you think about it. As the author at TAI writes:

While Democrats face some internal wrangling over the project, it’s the state’s total absence of an organized political opposition that helps keep ideas like the high speed train alive. As a BuzzFeed article points out, Brown is not suffering in the polls whatsoever from his beloved project—a boondoggle that a majority of Californians now oppose. Similarly, the Golden State’s status as nation-wide leader in job losses isn’t expected to affect the Democrats’ legislative supermajority. In the last three months, three Democratic state senators have been convicted (1) on federal corruption charges including voter fraud, perjury, bribes in exchange for legislation, and weapons and drug trafficking to pay off campaign debts. That’s a list that would make Boss Tweed blush, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting the Democrats’ dominance in Sacramento.

It’s the job of the opposition to oppose, yet the California Republican Party is limp. As I wrote to friends the other day after the Leland Yee scandal broke:

“Which isn’t to excuse the CRP for being flaccid. Last night, several of us on Twitter were ripping them for being milquetoast in the wake of the Leland Yee scandal (and Wright and Calderon). The Republican Party in California is already a rump; why not make some noise, go on offense, and demand to know why the Democratic Party tolerates corruption in its ranks? Call press conferences, get ads out, get all candidates on the same message. Run on a populist clean government and prosperity platform.  We really have nothing to lose and we might peel off enough voters to make a difference.”

Otherwise, we’re just leaving the state to the people running it into the ground.

Footnote:
(1) Actually, one convicted and two indicted. The error has been pointed out at TAI in the comments section.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California: Jerry Brown’s high-speed payoff? #HSR

January 30, 2014
Boondoggle

Uncle Jerry’s High-Speed Boondoggle

Oh, no. This doesn’t look bad at all. First the Tutor-Perini (1) construction company, whom we’ve met before, wins a huge contract to build California’s high-speed rail, even though their record is… not the best. Then, after two defeats in state courts that put the whole project in jeopardy, Brown demands the state supreme court take the cases and overturn them — NOW!!! (2)

And what came between the lower courts’ decisions and Brown’s running to the supreme court? Why, a maximum contribution to Brown’s reelection campaign.

From Tutor-Perini:

The timing of the campaign contribution doesn’t sit well with the state Legislature’s leading critic of the $68 billion high-speed rail project.

“Let’s connect the dots,” said Senator Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, who has introduced a package of legislation “aimed at driving a stake through the heart” of the state’s bullet train. “The HSR Authority’s apparent bid-rigging lands this company a $1 billion contract, then this company gives Brown a max campaign contribution, and then Brown sues to bail the company out?”

“In farm country, this is called ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,’” Vidak said.

If Michelle Malkin ever writes a second edition of “Culture of Corruption,” I have a suggested new chapter for her, titled “California’s High-Speed Rip-Off.”

PS: Yeah, I tweeted this article a few minutes ago, but it has me so ticked off, I had to write about it. Garbage like this is one of the poisoned fruits of decades of one-party rule.

Footnote:
(1) The principal owner of which is Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband, let us not forget. Apparently not true any longer, Blume having divested himself of Tutor-Perini stock around October, 2005. (h/t Brock Winstead)
(2) Where he was rebuffed, I’m happy to say. Even the governor doesn’t get to jump the line.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


California: Governor Brown panicking over High-Speed Rail? Updated.

January 8, 2014
Boondoggle

Boondoggle

From The Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters. It looks like Governor Brown, faced with recent legal defeats for his “Train to Nowhere,” may be starting to panic:

Jerry Brown may be getting desperate about keeping the state’s increasingly unpopular – not to mention financially and legally challenged – bullet train project alive.

Faced with a judge’s insistence that the project follow the law about having its financial ducks lined up, Gov. Brown is now poised to shift money from the state’s “cap-and-trade” fees on greenhouse-gas emissions into the bullet train.

Brown, it’s been reported in The Bee and elsewhere, will propose in his 2014-15 budget that a portion of the fees being extracted from California business be committed to the bullet train.

Problem is, the money my fellow Californians allocated (1) to fight global warming climate change the evil demon threatening Gaea is “hardwired” by statute; the court may not accept that as a funding source sufficient to let construction go forward. Even if it does, the legislature, whose dominant leftist faction gets a lot of donation money from environmentalist groups, may not agree to reallocate the funds. But, if they do, and if the judge accepts this as a legal source of funds for Jerry’s Choo-Choo, it may still set up the mother of all Blue-on-Blue battles in Sacramento as environmentalist groups and their voters will likely raise an unholy stink over any money being diverted from their religious crusade.

And, when that happens, I’m doubling my popcorn order. smiley popcorn

Footnote:
(1) Passed in a fit of  “It’s for the environment! It must be good!!” Look, I live in a beautiful state and consider myself a conservationist (But not an environmentalist. I don’t join cults.), but passing a crippling new tax to fight a problem that does not exist was stupid and self-destructive for the state. Unfortunately, that’s what you get when an electorate votes with less consideration of the issues than they give to buying a head of lettuce.

UPDATE: There is no way I’m taking Moe Lane’s bet. That’s a sucker’s bet if I ever saw one.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


CA High-Speed Rail Fail: Judge derails Gov. Brown’s choo-choo?

November 26, 2013
"Train wreck"

“Train wreck”

Darn Judge Michael Kenny and his concern for the law! Doesn’t he know he’s standing in the way of the future?

A Sacramento judge put the brakes on California’s plans to build a bullet train after dual rulings Monday blocked the sale of $8 billion in bonds and ordered the rail authority to rewrite its funding plans for the huge project.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny ruled that there was “no evidence in the record” to support the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s request in March to sell the bonds from Proposition 1A, a $10 billion measure approved by voters in 2008 that allowed the bullet train project to move ahead.

In a separate but related case, the judge sided with the Kings County Board of Supervisors and two homeowners who sued the rail agency, saying it had failed to detail how the project will be financed, as legally required, before seeking bond money to begin construction.

The judge’s rulings leave the future of the $68 billion project in question. The state has been trying to get the first 130-mile segment in the Central Valley built using $3.24 billion in federal funds and $2.61 billion in Prop. 1A bond money. The rail authority has already signed a construction contract to build the first 29 miles of track from Madera to Fresno.

The judge rejected opponents’ calls for that contract to be rescinded.

The judge’s ruling seems a reasonable one, as he sticks to the question of CHSRA’s authority to sell bonds (1); the contract is a separate matter and, if the State can’t raise the money to pay for it, also moot.

Naturally, this ruling is going to get appealed by proponents of this boondoggle all the way to the State Supreme Court, if need be. Let’s hope they uphold Judge Kenny’s ruling; then maybe we can escape from this fiasco having wasted only $600 million.

I’m not, however, getting my hopes up. The legislature might try to rewrite the law to allow the bond sales. This would be difficult and subject to court challenges, as the original measure approving HSR was a public ballot initiative, and changing it might require another vote, something Brown opposes because the California public has turned against the project. He wouldn’t want to risk a public rejection that would definitively kill his 1930s retro-future dream. Whichever way this goes, it’s going to be a long fight.

As they say, “stay tuned!”

Footnote:
(1) I almost wrote “”bongs.” Fitting, seeing as this is California.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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