I'm pretty sure California is fucked until we A) raise income taxes for the wealthier tax brackets and B) undo prop 13. But sure, I'd vote for a gas tax as a problematic interim solution.
Gas taxes are flat taxes, which means they disproportionately those who are the least able to take the ding at the pump. Further, it's great that I live in an urban area of the state with decent (though increasingly expensive) public transit, but most of the state is rural. People who do manual labor are more likely to drive out of necessity. So are people who live in cheaper areas that are less accessible to any kind of public transit. (Hell, that's true even in Oakland and San Francisco.)
I want Prop 13 repealed like nobody's business, and I want people making more than half a million dollars a year to pay a reasonable share of taxes.
I'm so angry listening to Republicans on the news right now I could spit nails. All they're discussing is making cuts that will affect those who have the least--and, of course, passing a gas tax, which will disproportionately affect poor and middle class people.
Cthulu for Governor.
I'd vote yes because:
1. I don't have a car, and I have already deliberately structured my life so that the fluctuating price of gas affects me as little as possible.
2. Public transportation is already experiencing fare increases, so it is fair that cars should also share the expense. A large proportion of low-income people take public transit, and poor people shouldn't have to shoulder all the burden of balancing the budget.
3. I'd like to see more people using public transit more often, and if gas prices going up help people use public transit more often, then I'm all for it.
4. My job relies on state funding in order to pay for things like my salary, so I'd like the budget to be a bit more stable.
And yes, I do realize that I am pretty darn lucky and privileged to live and work somewhere that has good public transportation. If I was really voting on this issue, I would take other factors into consideration, and I might change my mind. I gave you my initial, off-the-cuff, gut reaction, and I am starting to rethink my opinion about it even a few minutes later: I don't put my initial gut reactions down on the ballots -- I put my well-thought-over decisions on the ballots.
As much as I want to discourage driving, encourage biking, walking, and public transit, and keep the state afloat, regressive sales taxes are NOT the way to do it. Ever.
So irritated--this was all coming from some guy, whose name now escapes me, who intends to run for governor. Joy.
My answer is a flat out NO, simply because:
I make just over $12k a year and live in SF (for an exceptionally cheap price, btw) and work in San Jose (doing what I'd always hoped I'd do).
Therefore, I NEED a car, unless I want to spend (and waste) over 5 hours of my time on public transit getting to/from work every day.
Trust me, i tried it, and I was so very, very unhappy in my social life.
I was more broke than ever when gas expenses went up, but was willing to sacrifice that for a little extra time with my nearest and dearest... BECAUSE I HAD TO.
I, personally, don't EVER want to be put back in a place where I have to choose finances over friends, thanks.
I've had a shitty commute for a pretty large percentage of the time I've lived here--and considering I lived in Los Angeles for two years before and believed the better mass transit in the Bay a huge bonus to moving back here--I was pretty disenchanted with long drives but quickly realized that four or five hours on buses and trains wasn't actually workable either long-term.
Alas, the choice of finances over friends is only one aspect of. Imagine family members or children relying on you. Ugh.
While I could almost certainly handle an extra $0.60/gallon, as folks have already said, it's a regressive tax.
The entire state budgeting process is fucked beyond repair, and needs to be overhauled completely. Personally, I'd like to start by telling the anti-tax zealots that they can stop paying taxes--but they will no longer be able to use any government services. Your house is on fire? Too bad. Social Security? Forget it.
Mr. Willie Brown pretty much said this last night--and I never agree with much out of that cad's mouth. "When people tell me they don't want to pay more in taxes, I ask them which services they use that they're willing to give up."
I'm not the one to speak, since I'm Mr. Mass Transit. And yes on everything you said above about flat taxes vs. scaled income.
I do remember reading somewhere that because the US subsidizes oil through oil wars, we keep our gas rates down compared to Europe where they've BEEN at $8-10/gallon, but then again, they've structured their mass transit far differently than we have, and trying to simply raise rates without the infrastructure in a state built around cars is going to be bad.
I'm curious to see what you read--if only because gas prices have been higher in Europe for so long that I don't believe oil wars are the only reason.
But yes on the infrastructure question. Especially since the best public transit system in the state is here in the Bay Area, and it's ridiculous expensive and getting more so--which doesn't discourage driving.
I will be a state resident again, goddammit.
I'm not sure I would only because I think it comes down to two things:
1. I don't think this is the magic fix that its being claimed to be.
2. I don't think its going to have a positive effect on consumer habits. I think its easier to swallow if you live someplace that driving everywhere just to get anywhere isn't a common and daily occurrence. I can see how it doesn't impact someone living in parts of San Francisco or the East Bay who drives maybe a couple times a week versus people in Los Angeles and San Diego who have to drive everyday and usually some sort of perversion of distance to get to work.
If people are feeling the negative impact on the pocketbooks, they're more likely to stop driving as much which means less consumption of fuel and less economic stimulus for the state in general. If its going to cost the average consumer $40+ to fill up their tank, they're going to start becoming picky about where else they spend their money. I mean, that's how it was last time gas prices hit that high there. So, it'll kind of undermine the whole thing.
That's what I'm saying--don't these people remember what happened last summer? A spike in gas prices nearly froze huge parts of industry and contributed to the lack of consumer confidence.
I voted NO. I'm a lower income person and I have to drive for a living-there is no way around it, and at one point last year I was paying a little over $100 more a month for gas, it really hurt my pocket book--and though I was able to push through it, I don't think I could do it on permanent basis--i skipped many things/canceled things that I shouldn't have.
We also has rural areas with scarce mass transit, and tons of poor people in these same areas. There needs to be a tax that is equal to income. I think that someone who makes 50K or more a year is not going to feel $100 extra month as much as someone who make under 25K.
The ONLY reason I would not vote for this is because of all the people who live in Antioch and Concord, the ones who used to live in the Mission and North Oakland, and have to commute to work. This is a fancy way of saying what everyone said above. Now....if we could just tax SUV's.....
Also, sort of tangential, but WTF raising transit prices AGAIN!? A higher gas tax, combined with higher bridge toll (yeah, they are talking about raising the bay bridge to 5 fucking dollars) AND BART and MUNI going up? What, do people want us to never leave our goddamn houses?
Sorry, I am really angry because I just talked to someone about this. House sitting in Oakland has made me realize that I really miss it over here, but I just can't move back and pay the BART. I am VERY privileged to be able to bike everywhere since I live in the Mission. I never, ever forget that.
2009-05-21 11:40 pm (UTC)
This poll (and some of the comments on it) stuck in my head while reading this washing post article
about the high cost of poverty, from both a time and money perspective.
I saw that article--though I will not look at the comments, and you can't make me.
I should post it. Thanks for the reminder.