Measure J increases regressive taxes, preserves and promotes an unsustainable lifestyle, and hastens the onslaught of global warming. Measure J, the so called “Self-help local transportation investment plan,” would better be called “The gas-guzzler protection act.” Getting sales tax instead of gas taxes to support roads is just ridiculous; it’s unwise. Measure J proponents point out they are in a funding trap. Unfortunately, Measure J is not a real solution, it just makes the trap bigger. Raising gas taxes should be an obvious choice at this point in history. If the state and federal governments refuse this tax option, it is not a reason for unfair, unsustainable taxes at a local level.
The California government has declared we will lower carbon emissions to 40 percent below 1990 amounts. Inefficient transportation is a major creator of carbon emissions. Right now, improving fuel efficiency has put us in a virtuous cycle, but improving vehicle efficiency has lowered tax revenue and helped lower oil prices. But we can increase tax revenue and keep a virtuous cycle going: More efficiency allows increased tax revenue, promoting further efficiency. We could raise gas taxes starting at a few cents and continuing to raise them over time, and over time, most all Californians could save (and see the incentive of saving) more on overall fuel costs by simply getting even more fuel-efficient cars (or driving less). This cycle should be a source for our funding solutions, not an excuse for unwise local tax policies. We only pretend to care about global warming if we won’t use economics in a positive way.
That governments should even consider subsidizing roads with non-oil taxes shows the ridiculous power that the oil industry still holds, and the trap of leaving infrastructure to the regressive taxes of local government. The Republican federal legislators are actually cutting money for roads to protect the oil corporations and the rich from progressive taxes, and the Democrats in California state government are just cowards about adding enough fuel taxes. Measure J is part of the trap.
Sales taxes are not a worthwhile way to solve road problems. Vote no on “J.” Don’t be pressed into solving problems by making bigger ones.