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Supervisor Frost: Do we really need another transportation tax?

Note: This article was written and submitted by Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost, who formerly served as a councilwoman in Citrus Heights. Although The Sentinel’s general policy is to not publish articles written by political campaigns or government officials, submissions that are focused on a local issue are considered for publication.

Guest opinion column by County Supervisor Sue Frost–
Sue Frost, supervisorSoon after I got sworn into office, I issued a survey to our community to help me evaluate and improve our services based on what you want to see. The survey is now closed, and with over 2,500 total responses and 300 responses from Citrus Heights alone, conclusions based on the data can now be made.

To me, the most important question on the survey was the question relating to budget priorities. In Citrus Heights, as well as every other community within my district, the number two priority is transportation/roads (with only public safety ranking higher). It’s clear that our entire community feels our roadways are in critical condition and that we can’t go much longer adding more to the deferred maintenance of the roads, which is currently at $450 million and counting.

This is a problem plaguing our entire state, with California’s deferred maintenance for transportation sitting at $57 billion. Unfortunately, many California legislators believe the best way to solve this problem is by raising taxes (again). There are two identical bills (AB 1 and SB 1) working their way through the legislative process that appear to be gaining steam and will hit taxpayers in three different ways. They would raise the gas tax by another 12 cents per gallon, they would hike the vehicle license fee by over 50 percent, and they would raise the cost of registering a vehicle by over 80 percent.

I urge our state legislators to reject these two proposals, and to find a solution without raising taxes and fees.

California has mismanaged its resources through waste, poured billions of dollars into an unnecessary high-speed rail system that does not even come close to addressing the state’s transportation problems, and devoted a greater and greater share of transportation funds to public transit (which accounts for only a small fraction of the total number of trips taken and has seen declining ridership). Bailing out such mismanagement with tax increases will only enable more of the same dysfunctional behavior. Until the state gets serious about putting its own house in order and making transportation a real priority, policymakers should put the brakes on any tax increases.

Further, lower-income taxpayers are disproportionately burdened by transportation taxes, since these households spend proportionally more of their income on things like gasoline and registration fees. For example, people making $24,000 a year spend more than twice as much of their income on gasoline as those earning five times as much. We should be doing what we can to assist families that are struggling, not further burden them.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who attended my Citrus Heights Community Cabinet meeting on February 24th – it was very helpful for me to discuss issues directly with the community. The next meeting will be on April 21 at 7:30 a.m., at Denny’s Restaurant at Sunrise Boulevard and Greenback Lane.

Sue Frost represents the 4th District, which includes all or part of the communities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Orangevale, Antelope, Rio Linda, Elverta, Gold River, Rancho Murieta, North Highlands, Carmichael, Foothill Farms, and Fair Oaks. She can be contacted at (916) 874-5491, or

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