The government of California is comprised of the Big Five that includes the Senate minority leader, Assembly minority leader, Senate president, governor, and the assembly speaker. These people meet in private places to discuss matters pending in the legislature. The Big Five also have the control of the overall legislative funds. In addition, if they want any bill passed, it is passed without them questioning any other body. Many government programs agencies and institutions of California are established in the constitution. This essay discusses the political background on infrastructure in California, its high-speed rail, controversies involved in CA politics, proposals and forces behind it as well as the competing interests in infrastructure.
Politics and government in the state of California are intertwined, and they completely account for the organization and role of California’s government. In many ways, the existing battles over transportation bonding in California State reveal the worldwide trend towards the effect of politicizing matters that used to be dealt with in a bipartisan method in the past. California is one the states that faces major devastating erosions in the infrastructural sector (American Society of Engineers, 2014). However, plans are developed to save the eroding infrastructure. The politics behind the deferment of funds set for infrastructural maintenance has been the reason for its erosion. For the last years, the government has been deaf and dormant on the cry of the citizens. However, the current progress was seen in 2014 when infrastructure plan was released to deal with the failure of prior plans by including a source of funding for the projects, proposing extra funding toward deferred maintenance, and outline the significance of preserving states infrastructure. This project is one of the current major projects in the State’s government that will open a new chapter in the infrastructural sector.
Background on the Infrastructure
The maintenance of roads and bridges seems to be a pressing issue in the Californian government. According to a finding by the California Transport Commission, many counties in the state have poor or dangerous roads that cause a great threat to the lives of people, their businesses, and the economy in general (Bardhan, Jaffee, & Kroll, 2004). The hazards resulting from these poor roads are seen to create more costs for drivers since they must maintain their vehicles and replace worn out tires. Moreover, the additional costs are a burden on the drivers where the politicians dig deeper into their pockets for taxation fee that has never shown its outcomes (American Society of Engineers, 2014). The great worry is that billions of these tax dollars that should be used for transportation bonds are usually channeled into other programs. The state government of California collects billions of dollars yearly in the truck weigh fee. However, contrary to directing it to the transportation bond, it is used in payment for debt services on general funds and those of the general obligation bonds.
After the 2006 voting with much promises and hopes on the transportation sector, the voters remain in the same dilemma as nothing has changed. The voting approved the amount of $20billion in the transportation tax that was to be used for transportation reasons (Bardhan et al., 2004). Instead, it was channeled to repay the general fund bonds. The money that was to be used in the general funding bond was freed to be used for other purposes. The politicians have convinced the voters that these transportation bonds were even going come with the general funds, which has never happened even up to date (Dowall, 2000). California politicians use these funds for their campaigns in the elections for their personal gains. Other sectors such as the education bond sector and the water bonds sector are repaid for these general funds, but the controversy comes when the transportation sector is concerned. The more powerful politicians gain at the expense of the poor citizens. The use of transport tax revenue in the payment of other bonds leaves the sector with very little or inadequate money for maintenance and improvements of the transportation sector they are collected for.
The collapse of the bridge in July 2006 is a clear indication of the fact that the maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation of California’s roads and bridges are long overdue (American Society of Engineers, 2014). Furthermore, this brought the claims that the politicians had reached out into these funds and directed them for the purpose other than the maintenance of roads and bridges. Later after subsequent complaints from the citizens, the Senate of the Republicans (Bob Huff) called for the seven amendments to the Constitution that would serve to close the loopholes and stop theft in the transportation sector (Dowall, 2000). The amendment of this section was only seen as a way to raise funds without increasing the tax rates for the citizens who already felt these taxes were too high. The highway, which is the state’s biggest and most significant infrastructure, has begun to fall apart, and billions of dollars are required for its maintenance and reconstruction.
Controversies, Proposals, and Competing Interests
The existing disputes that have been there as a result of postponed interventions on infrastructure have been settled by the agreement in the infrastructure plan released in 2014, proposing the significance of maintaining state infrastructure. This plan included a source of funding for the proposed projects and suggested extra funds towards delayed maintenance. Some of the competing interests included the proposed renewable energy projects and proposed power link transmission project (Field, 2013). The infrastructure project is likely to win as the passed plan stresses on postponed maintenance and project specifications such as project phase and project status putting more emphasis.
Effects on the Business Sector
According to interviews conducted amongst different businessmen and women, there is the need to approve other new revenue methods other than increasing the tax on the citizens to fix the already decaying infrastructure (highway and bridge systems) of the state of California (American Society of Engineers, 2014). If not done so, eventually, the state would face harsh economic consequences that would cause the effect to be felt in the entire state for many decades. The effect of infrastructure decay is seen to have much impact on the business sector. If there is no possibility for the movement of goods and people on safe roads and bridges, there is no business as well since these two are the key players in any business. This issue was raised following the bridge that had collapsed in July 2006 along the interstate as the result of heavy rains that disconnected the route between the towns in the states of California and Arizona (Bardhan et al., 2004). Although no lives had been lost in this accident, the effect on the business sector was significant as it was challenging to move goods and services to and from the two towns, affecting business owners who frequently transacted their businesses across the two towns as well as the growth rate of the country’s economy.
The collapse of this bridge has highlighted that California’s bridges, roads, and highway are in hopeless need of maintenance, rehabilitation, and repair as stated by the California Transportation Commission (American Society of Engineers, 2014). With the little level of funding in the transportation sector, one-quarter of the California’s roads, bridges, and local streets will be in a state of failure by the year 2022 (Bardhan et al., 2004). Further, information indicates that more than a quarter of California’s bridges are in desperate need of replacement, repair, and improvement. Thus, this calls for additional investment in the infrastructural sector. The battles in the transportation funding outline a growing political gap amid big businesses and the traditional Republican partners in Sacramento. Moreover, this raises the accountability that the Republican rule makers will destroy the historic investments in the bridge and highway maintenance and repairs to the disadvantage of the state’s long-term interest. The poor state of the Californian infrastructure is too costly for the country’s economy, which adds up to the annual cost of $44 billion (Bardhan et al., 2004). Gathering revenue for the maintenance and repair of these infrastructures would create a thousand of jobs for the men and women who will be involved in the fixing of the roads and engineering works.
Water as an Infrastructure
The California suburban area of Sacramento is responsible for supplying water to the old neighborhoods in the city. The sector has been involved in a decade-long project. This project aimed to restore the old and undersized water mains as well as install meters as a requirement of the current state law. The relevant government that was held responsible for the project ended up diverting the public funds to their political imperatives (Field, 2013). The accumulating negligence in the repair and maintenance of this project led to a devastating experience of systemic breakdowns. A good example is a failure in repair and maintenance of old water main that has been in existence for 90 years. It is believed to have ruptured in the town of Los Angeles, resulting in damage worth of millions of dollars (Field, 2013). Negligence and political involvement in handling matters related to water resulted in a crisis that would have been prevented by spending little on repair and maintenance. In addition, the outstanding negligence and mismanagement of funds in maintaining the streets in the city is likely to cause more devastating effects and losses.
The High-Speed Rail
The responsibility for planning, building, designing, and the operation of California’s high-speed rail lies in the hands of the California’s high-speed rail authority. The operation of this rail will aid in connecting the upper section of the state, which will bring significant developments in the region and improve the lives of California residents. The following are some of the benefits that will come around with the high-speed rail. First, there is expectation of the economic growth and creation of jobs. Before the high-speed rail is finished, the project is expected to create more than 450,000 permanent jobs (Field, 2013). The route between San Francisco and Los Angeles is projected to produce the overall revenue of $ 2.23 billion by the year 2023 (Field, 2013). The rail will bring environmental benefits where the results of greenhouse gasses emitted by the initial locomotive train will reduce the number of auto travels on the state’s highways. Lastly, there will be numerous regional benefits tied to it, as the large population of the region will be able to access available transport. In addition, the welfare of people will be improved, and the tourism sector will grow.
At last, after many dead promises, there seems to be hope in the lives of California citizens as for now, they can see some progress when it comes to infrastructure. The railway is expected to have a bridge put in place within a year, and the bridge will be 25 feet high and 1500 feet long (Field, 2013). This project has remained a burning topic of debate, but there is much progress in the project, and its implementation moves ahead. This project is one of those scheduled for summer, giving hopes that the other neglected infrastructure would be also paid attention to.
It is clear that much of California’s infrastructure sinks in the deeper destruction caused by negligence, politicians’ selfishness, mismanagement, and politicizing of issues. It is true to conclude that in different ways, California slips into the universal trend towards politicizing matters. In the past, this issue was dealt with in a bipartisan method. If much is to be seen in the progress of California’s infrastructure, those in leadership must do away with politics and get down to serving the citizens as well as be in a position to account for their contributed revenue appropriately.