California Opinion: The gas tax bait-and-switch

Cassandra of Greek mythology was blessed with the gift of prophecy and doomed by the curse that no one would ever believe her.

Conservatives in California know just how she felt.

California’s modern day Cassandras have repeatedly warned about the misuse and diversion of public funds for roads and highways. In no other area have California voters been lied to more frequently and more brazenly than with transportation spending.

Nearly 30 years ago, voters were told that California’s roads, freeways and bridges were crumbling and that spending on transportation was so seriously inadequate that a gas tax increase and other taxes were desperately needed to save California from ruin.

Based on the promises from special interests — in a very well-funded political campaign — in 1990 voters approved in Proposition 111, a 9-cents-a-gallon tax increase combined with a 55 percent increase in truck weight fees.

Demonstrating that not much has changed in three decades, promoters of Prop. 111 trotted out long lists of projects that would be completed with the billions of dollars in new revenue. Advertising focused on the benefits of Proposition 111, without ever mentioning taxes.

Sound familiar?