By Melissa Caen

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Caltrans isn’t waiting for the gas tax hike in November, they are getting ready to get to work on California’s roads.

Caltrans will have $5 billion for road repairs and are gearing up to hire a lot of workers.

The gas tax will go into effect in November and is expected to raise $52 billion over 10 years.

State Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) said, “This bill will provide jobs.”

And the hiring has begun.

Back in April, when Beall was pushing for his bill to increase the gas tax, it was not an easy vote – but he promised that the road repairs funded by the tax would mean jobs.

Beall said, “This bill will provide hundreds of thousands of jobs for poor people that need work, and it will stimulate the economy.”

Arguing against the gas tax, State Senator Jeff Stone (R-Riverside) said while some people will be helped, many would be hurt.

Stone said, “Under SB 1, middle class families and working class will pay hundreds of dollars more every year in higher taxes and fuel cost.”

The tax increase of about 12 cents a gallon won’t go into effect until November, but already Caltrans is looking for more than a thousand new employees to start fixing roads.

Most openings are for engineers or other planners, but about a 250 are for blue-collar union jobs like equipment mechanic and maintenance.

In the Bay Area, Oakland is a hub for Caltrans and you can apply for local jobs online anytime.

Over the next few months, Caltrans will also be at two job fairs, one in San Francisco on August 17 and one in Berkeley on March 13 at the UC Berkeley campus.

Even if you’re not looking for a job, all this hiring could still be good news.

State Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) says these jobs keep the state economy afloat.

Hertzberg said, “When you look and study, the Department of Finance will tell you on these down turns, one of the reasons why last time around it wasn’t so bad is we had so much money on school construction that gave high wage, middle class jobs to folks that mitigate against those down turns.”

So why’s there a rush to hire?

Well, since the tax goes into effect in November — and it is wildly unpopular — having improvements underway in communities across the state will help residents see and feel the immediate results of the tax.

  1. Great! A 1000 new union leaches sucking up our tax dollars!

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