Transportation funding bill press conference

By George Miller

Several officials, including Steven Brown- General Manager of Gold Coast Transit, Kristen Decas, CEO of Port of Hueneme, Darren Kettle- Executive Director of  Ventura County Transit Commission, Greg Nyhoff- Oxnard City Manager and Congresswoman Julia Brownley (Oxnard Councilman Bryan MacDonald, Gold Coast Board Member, was also present), staged a press conference at the Oxnard Transportation Center on April 9. The objective was to stress the need for federal funding in the form of a long-term surface transportation infrastructure bill, in the range of $478 billion.

OXTrans

This was part of a nationwide coordinated effort to push the bill through Congress (see Stand Up for Transportation Day – April 9, 2015). Here’s the web site justification: http://voicesforpublictransit.com/content.aspx?page=issues, but it is lacking in any plan or bill details, such as what it would be used for, what it would cost and how it would be funded.  At the press conference, the only numbers I heard were $478 billion and at least $3 billion for Ventura County, although it is difficult to see how one medium-sized county would get so much of that federal pie.

It was noted that Congresswoman Julia Brownley is on the transportation committee, which might give her greater than average influence on the bill. The current funding expires on May 31. Many short term extensions have failed to provide the stability/predictability to allow planning new major projects. Some of the ones below aren’t even on the drawing board yet, or could be held up without long-term funding, we were told.

Local projects mentioned at the press conference included: 101 renovation/upgrade from Ventura to Santa Barbara, 101- Port Hueneme transportation corridor, 101-23 interchange and railroad grade separations.

There is no doubt that the national (and local) transportation infrastructure not only needs work, but expansion as well. It is also understood that the aforementioned projects are about as close to real “shovel-ready” jobs as we can get. The question is, what should the priorities be and how should they be financed?  Neither the press conference nor the referenced web site addressed that- only that Congress needs to approve $478 billion. Nor did they mention that funding being raised is not being spent as originally intended.  There are also implicit embedded assumptions that the transportation plan must address thus far unproven runaway global warming, via draconian “sustainability” measures, which would radically transform society. These aspects were largely unaddressed at the event.

What we didn’t hear discussed is why are funds being siphoned out of gas tax money federal highway trust fund to be used on various “sustainability” projects only tangentially related to transportation? Why do Californians pay a dollar a gallon more for gasoline than in many other states and more than any other state except Hawaii, which must import 100% of what it uses, while California is the 4th largest oil producer in the nation and has its own refineries?  And now, there are new hidden “cap and trade” taxes, too. Gas taxes are among the most regressive of all, because they fall heavily on middle to lower class working people who must drive.

 

KADYTV2Press Conference video

 

We also interviewed Ventura County businesswoman Scotia Alves, who we heard was at the press conference and is also involved with the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce (she is not a spokesperson for this organization). Ms. Alves is not in favor of higher taxes and believes in more efficient use, reallocation and better management of existing tax revenues. She then fired off an additional written response to us as follows:

I went to hear Congresswoman Julia Brownley speak at the Oxnard Transit Center on Thursday, April 9th.  This was a press conference promoting passing a federal bill for transportation. There weren’t many people there, but most attendees wore t-shirts that said “Stand Up For Transportation.” A few city officials spoke as well.  Oxnard City Manager, Greg Nyhoff, was promoting it with Congresswoman Brownley.

The reason I went was to ask for a minute of her time, to talk to her about her disturbing voting record. Representative Brownley got last place on the “Club for Growth” annual Congressional scorecard for 2013. This scorecard’s criteria have to do with economic growth/development, job creation, wage growth…etc.

Just to contrast, Congressman Tom McClintock, who originally was from our district, got first place on that scorecard. All I wanted from Rep. Brownley was a defense and an explanation for such a profoundly destructive voting record. This is the kind of voting record that has stagnated  job creation & wage growth in this country. The veterans coming home from over 10 years of wars need jobs with potential wage growth. They deserve to come home to jobs. Jobs help PTSD.

Brownley’s Chief of Staff, Lenny Young, agreed to talk to me. We talked for about 15 minutes. He made absolutely no defense or explanation for her provocatively questionable voting record. He only would rant against the “Club for Growth,” saying, “it’s the most destructive organization in America” and that it’s evil. I told him I can see why he said that in light of the fact that she got last place, out of 435 Representatives. To  get last place on this very significant Scorecard may be a badge of Courage for someone from Santa Monica, but I don’t  think it represents her constituency.

PEOPLE WANT JOBS. Veterans want & need jobs! Her voting record is a job destroying record. We now have the lowest labor force participation since the  late 70’s. Congresswoman Brownley’s anti free market voting record, & those of like mind have caused  this STAG NATION!

~~~

FHWA FY 2015 BUDGET – U.S. Department of Transportation (last budget)

White House sends Congress $478 billion, 6-year …

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George Miller is Publisher of Citizensjournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant, active in civic affairs, living in Oxnard.

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One Response to Transportation funding bill press conference

  1. Jay July 29, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Taxes on gasoline, vehicle registration, and so forth disproportionately effect the working poor and middle class negatively. It always breaks my heart when I see progressives make the argument that we need to increase the taxes and fees for motorists because it becomes immediately clear that they simply do not have any compassion for Americans who are not in the top few percentiles economically.

    At best these policies are hopelessly regressive and serve to keep people from improving their economic lot. Worse the money’s from these taxes and fees don’t even get spent on improving the infrastructure, and instead are spent on other policies and priorities that benefit working people even less while costing them more. (California High-Speed Rail)

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