If Republicans have their way, California highways stand to lose big under Trump’s infrastructure plan

President Trump’s infrastructure proposal isn’t worth much. And what it is worth for California, the state’s Republican delegation in Congress is trying to destroy.

That’s the irony. More precisely, it’s cynical politics outweighing needed public works.

This is what I mean:

Under Trump’s plan, the federal government would pay for 20% of a major infrastructure project, such as a bridge repair. State and local governments would need to foot 80%.

California is in excellent shape for that one-sided deal because last year it raised gas taxes and vehicle registration fees to pay for repairing dilapidated highways. So it has a pot of money eligible for the Trump dollars.

But California’s Republican House members are pouring big bucks into a proposed November ballot measure to repeal the gas tax and registration fee hikes.

Why? It’s looking like a rotten election for Republicans, especially in California. They’re in danger of losing House seats. Democrats need to pick up 24 seats nationally to recapture control of the House. In California, it’s highly unlikely there’ll be an exciting GOP candidate for governor or the U.S. Senate who can draw Republican voters to the polls. So party strategists hope an anti-tax measure will attract them.

“The base vote needs some motivation,” veteran Republican consultant Dave Gilliard told me last fall. He was running the gas tax repeal campaign.

Gilliard said he told Republicans: “Democrats handed us a gift by passing this very unpopular bill and we should take advantage of it.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) has contributed $100,000 from his campaign kitty into the signature-gathering effort to qualify the measure for the ballot. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) has donated $50,000. Republican Reps. Mimi Walters of Irvine and Ken Calvert of Corona have each put up $25,000.

Republican businessman John Cox, a dark horse candidate for governor, is a big bankroller. He has dumped in $250,000.

Presumably the Republican House members will vote for Trump’s plan in Congress.

“It’s hypocritical to support a federal infrastructure plan that requires states to put up the majority of money while simultaneously seeking to repeal the ability of your home state to participate in that plan,” says Michael Quigley, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, a labor-management coalition.

For more on the benefits of SB 1 and the fight to save it from California’s Congressional Republicans, click here.

Orville Thomas on February 20, 2018