This week the Kings County Board of Supervisors weighed in on the county’s legislative platform for both state and federal priority issues. Here are a few issues they addressed, some with surprising results.
Kings County weighs support for unpopular gas tax
Despite at least two initiatives looking to overturn the recently implemented increase in the state’s gas tax, Kings County, like other counties, appears ready to support the increase, saying it is “critical” to the upkeep of local roads.
The 12-cents-a-gallon increase will raise more than $50 billion statewide over a decade, argue supporters.
“Over a 10 year period it will mean an extra $36 million to maintain and improve our roads here,” said Kevin McAlister, Kings County Public Works Director. He adds that protecting Senate Bill 1 that authorized the increase “is a priority for Kings County.”
If there is a vote next November the state and county have some convincing to do. A recent poll of potential voters showed 52 percent in favor of repealing the tax increase.
SB 1 defenders counter that the taxes are being spent in the local jurisdiction now. Consumers are seeing higher gas prices recently but a large part of the increase has come from surging oil prices, not taxes.
Kings County is also proposing a change in how we pay for roads based on gas tax using some sort of a mileage-based formula that would tax electric cars as well gasoline users.
County continues to oppose high speed rail
No surprise here as the BOS looks to oppose high-speed rail activities in the county inter-platform.
Here is what they propose:
- Oppose any state funding or support of the California High-Speed Rail project.
- Oppose using any state cap-and-trade funds on the California High-Speed Rail project. This funding stream varies widely and ends in 2020 unless renewed by the Legislature which it has, to date, refused to do. It is designed to fund short-term projects that will reduce greenhouse gases. High-speed rail will not be operational until at least 2025, if ever.
- Oppose any legislation that attempts to modify a voter-approved state general obligation bond measure without gaining voter approval for the modification.
- Support any bills that require financial accountability.
- Support legislation which is designed to ensure that taxes and fees pay for streets, no high-speed rail.
Maintain ACA funding for chronic diseases and children’s program
The platform comes to the support of programs authorized through Obamacare. The platform says they oppose “any effort to reduce the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF). The PPHF, which was created by Section 4002 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the nation’s first mandatory funding stream dedicated to improving our nation’s public health. This fund created an unprecedented opportunity for local health departments to augment and expand existing chronic disease programs or to participate in new programs to address longstanding chronic disease issues in their communities. However, over the years, the PPHF has become increasingly vulnerable and has been diverted to fund other purposes.”
Also, the platform supports funding for maintaining Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides access to health care for pregnant women and children who are low income but above the cut-off for Medicaid eligibility.
“Elimination of CHIP in California would result in 5,996 children in Kings County going without access to medical care.”