Among the major California counties, three had measures on the March 3 ballot to support various transportation efforts. Each required a 2/3 vote to pass. All failed. Here’s a quick summary.
Marin County is one of the wealthiest in the country. Sonoma County, known for its wines, is actually largely rural and agricultural. But tourism has poured billions of dollars into the economy. Contra Costa County is east of the East Bay hills and north of Alameda County. It includes many upscale bedroom communities such as Orinda and Lafayette. There are two good-sized citiies, Concord and Walnut Creek. Middle class neighborhoods abound in Richmond, Antioch, Marinez, and Pittsburg. The eastern edge of the county is agricultural and recreational, with the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers featuring terrific water skiing. None of these counties is poor in any way. Yet all turned down these taxes.
Here’s a possible reason. Over the decades, Californians have watched politicians in Sacramento divert funds from designated transportation services to, well, any pet project. Once upon a time the state gasoline tax supported highway construction and repair. Then some of the funds were diverted to public transit, for example. Result: a recent gasoline tax increase was passed by the legislature. When presented to the voters, we were promised, really not kidding this time, that all funds would go to roads. You can guess what happened next. Governor Gavin Newsome diverted some of the money to transit and who knows what else.
Perhaps California voters have finally figured out what’s going on.