Re "Say Yes to Prop. 42," Commentary, Feb. 25: When are people finally going to understand that there is no such thing as "something for nothing"? Larry McCarthy says that we will be able to accomplish a long list of road repairs and improvements as well as extension of commuter rail lines and improvements to bus service "without raising one dollar of additional tax." His premise (and this is mirrored by the TV ads) is that if we force the politicians to spend the money that is raised from fuel taxes on highways and public transportation, we will be able to improve California's transportation system without increasing taxes.
The obvious question that is not being asked or answered is "What are these funds being spent on now?" If these funds are now going to be spent on highways and transportation, whatever they were being used for previously is going to have to be replaced with other funding sources, which means . . . you guessed it. Increased taxes.
In the context of the state's overall budget the numbers are not that big, even considering that with the reduction of federal moneys for highways that President Bush is proposing, California will need to come up with additional funds. The improvements are needed (desperately). The projects will create jobs and stimulate the economy. I agree. Just don't insult my intelligence by telling me it is going to be free.
Re "Hang On, State's Roads a Rough Ride," Feb. 26: I propose using the road maintenance money to expand light rail along the San Diego Freeway instead. The Southern California Assn. of Governments' regional transportation plan projects freeway commute speeds reduced into the teens by 2020--despite spending our money on more roads and maintenance.
The article states that massive road maintenance projects are needed to reduce increased vehicle operating costs. Our roads are becoming so jammed that poor road conditions will have far less impact on auto repairs as cars crawl to their destinations.
The Times' Feb. 18 editorial urged voters to reject Proposition 42 on Tuesday's ballot. The Auto Club believes that voters should approve it. This measure would permanently dedicate the state's share of the sales tax on gasoline (over $1 billion per year) to help repair and rehabilitate the state's crumbling transportation infrastructure without increasing taxes.
Our roads and freeways are suffering from neglect and all of us who travel on them feel the impact. Highway spending in California has dropped from about $60 per 1,000 vehicle miles driven in the 1960s to (adjusting for inflation) less than $4 today, the least of any state in the nation. Southern California drivers spend 40 to 60 hours a year delayed in traffic congestion, costing drivers from $700 to $1,000 each year in time and gasoline and over $500 in unnecessary repairs.
We must make transportation investment a priority once again if we want to preserve and improve our quality of life. Proposition 42 is a start.
Thomas V. McKernan Jr.
President, Automobile Club
of Southern California