Letters to the Editor

Want better roads? Then we have to pay taxes

Pothole, seen on York Mountain Road east of Templeton in April 2017.
Pothole, seen on York Mountain Road east of Templeton in April 2017. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Andrea Seastrand’s recent column (“Repeal the unnecessary $5.2 billion gas tax,” Aug. 4) omits several key facts, but at least she admits that California roads are desperately in need of improvement.

First, needed funds cannot be readily found and magically reallocated in Sacramento. Current budget priorities are well-established and defended by strong constituencies or federal and state law. Ms. Seastrand’s red-herring suggestion of merely rearranging the budget isn’t feasible.

Second, the current gas tax just doesn’t buy what it used to. Voters last increased the gas tax by 5 cents a gallon in 1990. Since then, inflation has cumulatively risen by 92 percent — cutting gas tax revenue buying power almost in half. Further, during the same time period, the average fuel economy of cars on the road has increased from 19 to 23 mpg, thus every mile driven yields less tax revenue. Even with the recent passage of SB1, today’s motorists will pay less tax per mile in real terms than they did in 1990.

Lastly, no one likes paying more taxes, but better roads won’t materialize without them. An improved road system in our county will benefit public safety, tourism and our economic base. Simply put, better roads are worth paying for.

Tom Burhenn, Arroyo Grande

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