Taxing You into Public Transportation
Government agendas should not be used to change behavior by taxing us into fixed-rail trains and buses
by San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond
San Diego County’s Regional Transportation agency’s (SANDAG) latest transportation plan is designed to make driving so expensive that you succumb to public transportation. In addition to current the gas tax and registration fees, SANDAG’s plan adds three new half-cent sales tax increases, over 800 miles of San Diego County freeway lanes converted to toll lanes, and a mileage tax for every mile driven to pay for their $165 billion public mass transit plan.
SANDAG’s new plan refuses to build the road improvements promised in their last plan but will continue to tax us until 2048 to pay for them.
SANDAG’s finance plan states, “Charging fees for the transportation infrastructure that people use—for example, charging users for each mile they drive on the highway—can change travel behavior.”
It may make sense to charge to drive on roads and freeways if the fees collected go back into roads and freeways, but that is not the case with SANDAG. It’s bait and switch – freeway dollars, gas tax dollars, and registration fees promised for road improvements instead pay for costly public mass transit projects that less than 3% of the public uses.
Who will this affect the most? The lowest income earners. The math is simple, those that earn less will pay a disproportionately higher percentage of their income to get to where they need to go. SANDAG, the self-proclaimed leader and champion of social equity is punishing those in the lower income brackets first – and will hurt them the most.
While San Diego County is nowhere near as densely populated as Manhattan, Tokyo, or Paris, yet we do need a balanced transportation system with both public transportation and freeways. Public transportation should be focused within the more densely populated communities and freeways and road improvements for the surrounding areas.
Government agendas should not be used to change behavior by taxing us into fixed-rail trains and buses. Instead of changing behavior, government entities should incentivize technology and innovation. Government should embrace what most people are already choosing, and make it cleaner, safer, and more efficient. The people have spoken, they choose freedom of movement and not broken promises or additional taxes.
California is a bellwether state for many liberal ideas and soon politicians may be proposing a similar per-mile tax in other states. When you hear that proposal just remember, government is no longer trying to do what is necessary, they’re now trying to change your mind and behavior.
Desmond represents the Fifth District, which covers the northernmost area of San Diego County. As a United States Navy veteran, Supervisor Desmond has been a County Supervisor since 2018.