Friday Roundup: Opportunity gaps in California, fees on fuel-efficient vehicles, Washington still hasn’t passed a capital budget


There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

City Journal: California Squashes Its Young

 A recent United Way study found that close to one-third of state residents can barely pay their bills, largely due to housing costs. When adjusted for these costs, California leads all states—even historically poor Mississippi—in the percentage of its people living in poverty.

California is home to 77 of the country’s 297 most “economically challenged” cities, based on poverty and unemployment levels. The population of these cities totals more than 12 million. In his new book on the nation’s urban crisis, author Richard Florida ranks three California metropolitan areas—Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego— among the five most unequal in the nation. California, with housing prices 230 percent above the national average, is home to many of the nation’s most unaffordable urban areas, including not only the predictably expensive large metros but also smaller cities such as Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. Unsurprisingly, the state’s middle class is disappearing the fastest of any state.

Stateline: Amid Gas-Tax Revenue Decline, New Fees on Fuel-Efficient Cars

As the revenue from gasoline taxes decreases with the rise of fuel-efficient vehicles, many states are looking for alternative sources of money to build and maintain their roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Some states, notably Oregon, are experimenting with a “road use” levy, charging taxes based on how many miles are driven in the state, rather than the fuel used. And a growing number of states are putting tolls on roads, as another way to raise revenue for infrastructure construction and repair.

Washington Research Council: Senate- and House-Passed Capital Budgets Include About $1 Billion for Public Schools

While the main problem is the lack of agreement on an operating budget, the Legislature has also not agreed on a capital budget…

The Senate has passed a 2017–19 capital budget that would appropriate $3.995 billion (including $2.538 billion that would be financed by general obligation bonds). The House has passed a capital budget for 2017–19 that would appropriate $4.152 billion (including $2.470 billion that would be financed by general obligation bonds). Neither chamber has passed its bond authorization bill (SHB 1080 and SSB 5090).