Last week, Will Kempton, Executive Director of Transportation California and former Director of Caltrans published a response to Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, in a Fox & Hounds piece stating that, “…in spite of all the recent audits and criticism, the organization [Caltrans] employs competent people who want to serve the public well.” In the same piece he highlighted the need to address California’s transportation funding crisis and provided one solution: Raise your taxes even higher.
There is no doubt that there are many fine and capable Caltrans employees who simply want to build and maintain our state’s highway system. What Kempton missed was the incredible dysfunction at Caltrans and tries to deflect any criticism of the department. He of all people knows how bad it really is at Caltrans, and for those who are unaware of the facts, his echo to raise taxes for transportation spending might seem like the only viable option. However, reports concerning a very dilapidated Caltrans are replete with criticisms of its inability to provide details for budget reviews and audits by either the LAO or the State Auditor.
We’re told the Governor and the Secretary of Transportation are serious about fixing California’s roads, but can you mention one initiative to actually fix Caltrans? All I hear is cries for more tax increases.
Allow me to review a few facts revealing the competency level at Caltrans:
- Caltrans has 3,500 too many architects and engineers at a cost of HALF A BILLION $$ A YEAR.
- Caltrans spends roughly $10 billion per year and has 10,000 architects and engineers. In contrast, Riverside County is managing a $7.5 billion freeway widening project that only has 9 engineers.
- Caltrans officials lied to legislators for 7 years. Caltrans spent $250,000 on a study of how to improve field maintenance operations for greater efficiency.
- Caltrans spends 3 times the national average on road repairs. Yet, California’s roads rate among the nation’s WORST in pavement condition and congestion.
- Caltrans only outsources 10 percent of its engineering and architectural work. Most states outsource 50 percent. Our neighbor, Arizona, outsources more than 80 percent!
- 62% of Caltrans projects are over budget.
- The January budget analysis reflected that the Governor’s transportation plan would increase gas taxes on California drivers by $3 billion when California’s gas taxes are already the nation’s 5th highest.
Left up to the Governor and the legislature, it will be YOU, the taxpayer, who will be asked to fund a “pothole” tax. I hate to break it to you, but you’re being taken to the cleaners. You are the victim of intentional infrastructure neglect. This literally is “highway robbery.” The fix is in. And the answer is you and your wallet.
California’s leadership should be sincere in its pursuit of better roads. Fix Caltrans. Taxpayers should expect no less.
I’m ready to #FixCaltrans.
Watch & Share this video: bit.ly/FixCaltransVid
About the Author: As a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Financial Planner, John Moorlach began his career in public service 20 years ago when he warned that then Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Robert Citron’s risky investment strategies would lead to bankruptcy. Moorlach’s warnings proved true when Orange County filed for bankruptcy protection in December of 1994, becoming the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. John Moorlach was twice re-elected to County Treasurer-Tax Collector. In 2006, voters elected John to serve in his first of two terms on the Board of Supervisors, where he continued his focus on reforming the county’s budget practices and sounding the alarm on the county’s growing unfunded liabilities. He now currently holds office as the State senator for the 37th senate district.