California Forum

The Conversation / Upgrading America

A ruptured 93-year-old water main near UCLA in 2014 left the campus awash in 8 million gallons of water. People were stranded in parking garages and the school’s storied basketball court was flooded. “There are now 240,000 water main breaks a year in this country,” says Greg DiLoreto, chairman of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ infrastructure committee.
A ruptured 93-year-old water main near UCLA in 2014 left the campus awash in 8 million gallons of water. People were stranded in parking garages and the school’s storied basketball court was flooded. “There are now 240,000 water main breaks a year in this country,” says Greg DiLoreto, chairman of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ infrastructure committee. Associated Press file

Last Sunday’s Conversation focused on America’s crumbling roads, electrical grids, water supply and telecommunications system and why they haven’t been upgraded.

In Susan Sward’s story “America needs an upgrade,” she wrote that “the nation’s aging infrastructure beckons as an assignment slip: It challenges America to reassess its enormous expenditures and in the process find the dollars to make repairing our infrastructure a reality.”

We asked readers: Would you be willing to pay higher fees or taxes to repair America’s aging infrastructure? Why or why not?

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Too much money for defense

Of course it is hard to find money for infrastructure. We have a $20 trillion deficit. We spend $600 billion a year on our military. We have the best jet planes, submarines and military technology. We have the worst highways, bridges and schools.

Fear and hatred are our biggest priorities. Not building for a better future.

Bernard Scoville,

Sacramento

Find alternatives to raising taxes

The preferred alternative to broadly raising taxes to pay for infrastructure is to cut waste. According to the story by Susan Sward, the needed infrastructure cost is about $2 trillion over 10 years, or $200 billion a year.

Cutting military and homeland security budgets by 25 percent would provide the needed funds. Spreading the cuts over the full range of discretionary federal budgets by only 10 percent and raising upper bracket taxes to World War II levels would also provide the needed revenue.

Evan Jones, Sacramento

$800 billion stimulus wasted

No, I don’t want to pay higher taxes to repair America’s infrastructure while Democrats are in charge. Fool me once ... In February 2009, President Barack Obama signed an $800 billion spending bill that he promised he would use to repair America’s aging infrastructure; remember that?

Well, he didn’t. PBS claims he “laid the groundwork for stronger, more sustainable economic growth in the years ahead.” We were told it would fix things now. The bulk of the money went to tax cuts for families, preventing teacher layoffs, and providing temporary help for people who lost their jobs or needed assistance because of the poor economy.

Karen Myers, Lincoln

Roberta Jones – We have already paid extra taxes and fees for years only to see the funds drained off into the general fund. I don’t trust any politician in Washington or any in California to keep their promises. How about carving the funds out of the obscenely bloated military budget?

Don Hendrix – 18-wheeler owner-operator here. I pay well over $10,000 a year in registration, fuel and road use fees. I know we tear up the road more than a regular car, so maybe that’s fair. But multiply that by the amount of trucks you see on the road. These funds should not go for mass transit, bike paths and the like (high-speed rail). While I’m all for these causes their funding should not come from road and fuel taxes. Just like Social Security we pay these taxes just to see them siphoned off for other uses.

J. Dale Debber – I’m done paying higher taxes and fees in a state that can’t manage itself. With all of the problems we face spending billions on a bullet train (not to mention the outdated technology) is a waste of money and time.

Richard Burton – No new taxes! Hard-working tax-paying employees in California are beyond cynical as to how the Democrats in state government spend our tax dollars. They simply do not trust the current Democrat-led Legislature to properly manage our money.

Brian Sumpter – Congress needs to raise the gas tax that pays for most highway construction to keep up with rising fuel efficiency. A car of today getting 30 mpg is paying half the tax the older 15 mpg cars of yesteryear paid. Plus, inflation has driven down the value of the tax. But Republicans are like ostriches, they hide their head in the sand and shout “no new taxes.”

Leo Valdez – Government has to be smarter with the money it does have; it’s not about us paying more.

Kathy Allen – We’d have more money to spend on infrastructure if we weren’t too busy invading other countries and building prisons.

Forrest S. Gardens – Maybe we need toll roads. Everyone will fund them, not just the working class.

Shirley Toomer – Only if there was a very strong method of accountability to ensure that the money was only spent on infrastructure. No more deferred maintenance. A fund must be maintained for maintenance.

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