The latest troubling audit report released two weeks ago unveiled yet again gross mismanagement and irresponsibility at the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans).  This report follows three years of scathing audit reports and media stories that Governor Brown and the Democratic super-majority have ignored.

The latest report sheds light on Caltrans employees falsifying data of strength testing of California bridges and exposes Caltrans supervisors of stealing state property for their personal use.  These troubling reports follow recent news of broken bolts being discovered on the Oakland Bay Bridge, the latest setback for a $6.4 billion project that was originally estimated at over $1 billion.  Also, investigative reporters recently revealed Caltrans employees drinking all day on the job instead of working.

The latest report from the State Auditor of the ineptitude of Caltrans management is appalling and not at all surprising. For the past three years, incident after incident have been revealed of Caltrans putting Californians safety at risk and wasting billions of tax dollars in the process. Yet Californians  are still waiting for our Governor and Democratic super-majority  to own up to their responsibility to be good stewards of the precious tax dollars we have entrusted to them. We deserve better.

Investigations and media reports over the past three years have documented the following abuse and mismanagement at Caltrans:

•    Caltrans employees average an annual salary over $100,000 yet California ranks 48th in the nation in state highway performance and cost-effectiveness

•    Handing out 40 percent pay hikes over the last three years;

•    Running up highway project costs (due primarily to pay hikes) by over $300 million;

•    Withholding budget information from the Governor, Legislature and public;

•    Keeping 1,500 Caltrans employees on payroll even though their jobs cannot be justified;

•    Ordering new vehicles when unused fleets sit gathering dust;

•    Billing taxpayers for junkets, including one to the exclusive Palm Desert resort;

The Governor has proven he has a talent for raising taxes on Californians, but allowing the mismanagement and abuse at Caltrans to continue demonstrates that he doesn’t know how to spend those tax dollars responsibly. In 2011, I introduced SB 851 which would have realigned Caltrans and improve our roads and infrastructure. I also personally pledged to the Governor that I was more than willing to work with him on needed reforms.  Two years later, my door remains open.