Phil Matier: Will Californians Pay Up For Better Roads?

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — California voters may get a chance to help improve the state’s roadways, but are they willing to foot the bill?

Will Kempton, a former Caltrans director and a member of the state’s transportation panel, is among the transportation leaders who want to put a measure on the ballot next November that they are calling the “California Road Repairs Act of 2014.”

If approved, the measure would increase the vehicle license fee by more than double. The plan would generate an estimated $3 billion a year.

Vehicle license fees are not popular and the politicians involved have their work cut out ahead of them. A decade ago, former Gov. Gray Davis was recalled after increasing the fee, leading to the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

On the other hand, California’s roads are very widely used and they’re taking a beating for it.

Over the last 10 to 15 years, cities and counties across the state have been going on what is called deferred maintenance. They have been taking money that should be going to potholes and using it for things such as firefighter pensions, raises for public employees, and in some cases social services and programs.

The question now is, are the roads bad enough for the voters to reach into their pockets to pay for repairs?

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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