Central Valley State Assembly Member Jim Patterson made news a few days ago by calling attention to funds being diverted from lane widening on Route 99. Patterson attributed the halting of road work to Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-19-19 signed September 20, 2019, which states in part:
The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) is directed to invest its annual portfolio of $5 billion toward construction, operations and maintenance to help reverse the trend of increased fuel consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the transportation sector. CalSTA, in consultation with the Department of Finance, is also directed to align transportation spending, programming and mitigation with the state’s climate goals to achieve the objectives of the state’s Climate Change Scoping Plan, where feasible. Specifically the Governor is ordering a focus for transportation investments near housing, and on managing congestion through innovative strategies that encourage alternatives to driving.
With uncharacteristic speed, the State Transportation Agency published on October 4 its 2020 Interregional Transportation Strategic Plan (ITSP), proposing to repurpose “uncommitted funds” from several current projects, including Highway 99 work, and retain “$61,331,000 in uncommitted 2020 ITIP programming capacity to be held in reserve for priority rail projects and other priorities aligned with Executive Order N-19-19.”
Since Assembly Member Jim Patterson’s clarion call, other entities have taken up his warning that California has just witnessed a major case of bait and switch and other cases will soon follow. For example,
ABC30.com reported Highway 99 expansion funding cuts elicit angry reactions. This news segment featured Assembly Member Jim Patterson saying,
This is classic bait and switch. We were promised streets, roads and highways and we are getting everything but.
In an Opinion piece in the San Bernardino Sun of October 13, The Gas Tax Bait and Switch, Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said,
In September, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that has redirected gas tax money to fund railway systems and other projects, rather than repairing and upgrading the state’s broken highways and roads. The governor and Caltrans claim that the diversion of funds is justified by the need to do something about climate change.
Like Assembly Member Jim Patterson, the Just Vote No Blog expects to see a lot more cases of Bait & Switch in the name of climate change.