The Los Angeles Times reported early Sunday morning that Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders in the state legislature made $1 billion in side deals to ensure the passage of a 12-cent hike in the state gasoline tax last week.
The Times said:
… Brown and legislative dealers promised nearly $1 billion for the pet projects of lawmakers who had been sitting on the fence before they were persuaded to vote for the bill.
The funding “arrangements,” as Brown called them, helped the governor and legislators break a two-year Sacramento stalemate on transportation funding.
Some legislators said the horse-trading taints the legislative process, but Brown defended the deals as justified, a moderate investment compared with the payoff of a bill that will generate $5.2 billion annually in the first 10 years for road repairs, and billions more in future years.
One of the more prominent deals was the one that secured the vote of State Sen. Anthony Canella (R-Ceres), who was the only Republican in either chamber to support the measure, which includes raised fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
That side deal turns out to have been the costliest of all, amounting to $400 million in pork for “the extension of the Altamont Corridor Express, a commuter rail line between the Bay Area and Central Valley.”
Canella’s vote was crucial, because moderate State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) opposed the gas tax, explaining in a statement published by the East Bay Times that it was unnecessary to raise taxes rather than re-directing spending from the costly high-speed rail project.
Canella was unrepentant, telling the Los Angeles Times: “I got the things I asked for, so apparently I made the most compelling case.”
Despite the pork for his home district, Cannella seemed to realize that his vote would be unpopular, tweeting on April 6 that he was avoiding social media.
I think I’m going to stay off social media today…
— Anthony Cannella (@AnthonyCannella) April 6, 2017
The gas tax required a two-thirds vote in each chamber to pass.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.