Last week, yet another high-profile scandal involving mismanagement rocked the California Department of Transportation – Caldrons, and yesterday I introduced Senate Bill 1141, which would launch a pilot program shifting road funds and maintenance duties from Caltrans to county governments.
Caltrans is one of the worst managed, most inefficient government agencies in the nation. Just look at the metrics. Californians pay among the highest gas taxes and the highest per-mile road maintenance, yet we also have the nation’s fifth worst roads. Those are clear signs that Caltrans is dysfunctional and wasting taxpayer money. If Caltrans was a private company, it would have been out of business long ago.
SB 1141 would launch a pilot program that allows two California counties to handle their own road maintenance needs, and to receive the road funding that typically would have been administered by Caltrans for those maintenance needs.
County governments are much more accountable to the taxpayers than the bureaucracy at Caltrans. County governments know their needs and have a history of getting the job done. Senate Bill 1141 allows counties to prove they can do much better than Caltrans.
Last week, the State Auditor found that Caltrans had intentionally lied to legislators about implementing the results of a 2009 efficiency study – one that recommended moving money and manpower to the highest need areas and managing efficiencies to help fix roads with the existing resources. Caltrans management reassured legislators that they were implementing the study’s recommendations, when, in fact, they had ignored them altogether and continued with an inefficient, labor-union friendly resource allocation.
Auditors also found that Caltrans has little, and often no, cost control measures, and that Caltrans often fails to even track project costs. The State Auditor is telling it straight when she says there are ‘weak cost controls’ that ‘create opportunities for fraud, waste and abuse.’ Sixty-two percent of Caltrans projects are over budget, and now we are beginning to know why. We can no longer tolerate this nonsense. It’s time to provide constructive and necessary solutions.
SB 1141 would provide a real-world study on moving resources to counties and making our road dollars stretch much further. More information on SB 1141 can be found HERE.