By Bob Berkowitz

How did that happen? That’s the first question I get when I pick up the phone.

I can tell that there is dismay followed by anger in their voice as they tell me about the gas price increase at the pump. Some of the calls were from seniors and hard working families on fixed incomes who are just getting by and now this new tax increase is in danger of putting them over the edge.

Earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed this bill that is designed to provide over $54 billion over 10 years to fix our roads, tunnels and bridges. It sounded so good. Our local Del Norte County roads would finally get the attention they needed. Was it worth an extra 12 cents a gallon?

Well, at the the time I thought, what the heck, it’s only 12 cents. In retrospect, that 12 cents increases every year and to make sure those with electric cars don’t escape paying this tax, the yearly car registration fee will increase by $100.

As painful as that is, the thing that hurts the most is even before the ink was dry on the legislation and way before the tax even in place, the state of California was already spending the money on a thing called Fix it First projects. These are $15 billion worth of projects that Caltrans could implement right away.

Humboldt County received $100 million on highway improvement projects. Mendocino County received more than $70 million. Trinity got $36 million.

Yes almost every county in the state received some of the Fix it First funds for their priority road projects. So how much did Del Norte County receive you ask? Nothing. Let me repeat that…nothing.

To be fair, eventually our county will receive some of the funds designated for repair of our roads but none of it will come from the Fix it First $15 billion pot of money that will go to most every other county in our state.

So, when your car tires experience premature failure due to all of the potholes in the road and you wonder why those ruts in the road never get taken care of you now have the answer.

Is there anything you can do? Yes, there is. Send a letter or email to our state senator, Mike McGuire at senator.mcguire@senate.ca.gov and our Assemblyman, Jim Wood at his web site asmdc.org/members/a02 and check the box “contact Jim.”

Ask them why Del Norte County was left out of the Fix it First program and what can be done now to receive an allocation under this program.

Bob Berkowitz is the Del Norte County District 5 supervisor.

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