By on January 11, 2010

Busted! (courtesy:tothefloor.com)

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, desperately seeking new sources of revenue to cover a $19.9 billion budget shortfall, yesterday declared a state of fiscal emergency. As part of his proposed solution, Schwarzenegger called for the deployment of a massive statewide speed camera program to generate at least $397.5 million in net profit to state and local government.

Under the proposal, existing red light cameras at intersections would be converted into “speed on green” cameras that issue citations to motorists who try to speed up at an intersection to make the light. Those who slow down and fail to make the light will be mailed a red light camera ticket.

“Various federal rules are tying our hands and preventing us from reducing costs in some state programs,” Schwarzenegger explained at a news conference yesterday. “I want to remind the federal judges and the politicians California is not Washington. We do not have the luxury of printing money or running trillion-dollar deficits.”

Although it is not printing money, the existing network of over a thousand municipal automated ticketing machines are expected to print over two million citations each year. The corresponding revenue that would be split 85 percent for the state — an estimated $337.9 million in the first year — and 15 percent to municipalities — $59.6 million. These figures do not include the millions that the well-connected private companies that operate the photo ticketing programs will collect.

California law currently prohibits the use of speed cameras, but in 2008 Caltrans laid the groundwork for the governor’s program by researching technical aspects of deploying speed cameras on the state highway system. This is not the state’s first experience with photo radar. Beginning in 1988, Pasadena began issuing speed camera citations to be followed over the course of a decade by the cities of Campbell, National City, Oakland, Riverside and Roseville. The experiments were far from successful. Courts undermined the effort by ruling that citations could not be enforced without proper service.

“The court will no longer process photo-radar speeding tickets where a ticket is merely mailed to the registered owner of a vehicle,” Oakland Municipal Court Presiding Judge Stephen Dombrink said in January 1997.

As motorists learned that they could safely ignore tickets, they stopped paying in large numbers because the programs were as unpopular with the public as they were with the courts.

“We’ve been getting flipped off a lot,” said Riverside Police Sergeant Jay Theuer explained to the Press-Enterprise newspaper on January 14, 1994. “It’s been mostly a negative reaction.”

As revenue dried up, cities one-by-one dropped automated ticketing — with one exception. The legislature stepped in and banned speed cameras in 2000, but San Jose ignored this law and continued to allow a contractor to run a speed camera program until courts stepped in and began overturning citations in 2007.

Source: PDF File Excerpt from Governors Budget Summary 2010-11 (State of California, 1/8/2010)

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15 Comments on “Schwarzenegger Calls For $397m In Speed Camera Revenue...”


  • avatar
    trucosm

    whether you live in a Republican or Democratic area and with apologies to Martin Niemoller….
    They came first for those who got parking tickets,
    and I didn’t speak up because I always brought quarters.
    Then they came for those who parked at meters,
    and I didn’t speak up because I had a garage.
    Then they came for those who ran red lights,
    and I didn’t speak up because I would never break the law.
    Then they came for those who speed on the highway,
    and I didn’t speak up because I was always drove 55 (ya right).
    Then they came for me,
    and by that time no one was left to speak up.
    lol.

  • avatar

    $397m is a drop in an ocean of $19.9 billion.  Arnold is full sewage.  How about having lie tickets?  Every time a California politician tells a lie, he/she has to pay.  Budget shortfall?  What budget shortfall?

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    You will see a revolt like no other in the U.S… Californians are great at litigating and will tie up the court systems so bad, that criminals will have to be arraigned quickly and released. Makes a lot of sense here.

  • avatar
    Mark out West

    Ballot initiative outlawing speed/red light cameras in 3..2..1..

  • avatar
    bmoredlj

    Not sure I understand…how can you “call for” speed camera revenue…sounds an awful lot like a.) a quota, and b.) a government that wants to profit on the tacit understanding that its citizens will disobey the law. Call it what it is; an unavoidable traffic light tax.

    And why the heck doesn’t California print it’s own money? The rest of the top ten economies in the world do it…

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      +1 – well, on your first paragraph anyway.
      Yes, a state with the well-known fiscal soundness of California could certainly print its own money. It could call them rubles; they would be about that well received. But the governor could, instead of declaring war on his state’s drivers with policies such as the proposed speed-camera idea, could simply pull a Hugo Chavez and devalue the currency by half overnight, thus declaring war on everyone in the state in equal part.

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    Gee, illegal aliens dont cost the state anything, do they? Go on, Arnold, do something about that situation. Not a peep.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    Who the hell voted this guy in?

  • avatar

    I was going to make seabrjim’s point myself. I calculated about 4-5 years ago that transfers from california citizens to immigrants amounted to about $10 billion, in the same ballpark as CA’s deficit at that time (LTE to this effect printed in Wash Post). This was based on the US Nat’l Academy of Sciences’ figures from 1997 that the average native Californian family paid $1178 to provide transfers of around $3,000 to immigrant families. California has to provide schooling for all those illegal immigrant kids (or those who are US citizens becasue they were anchor babies). That dumbs down the schools something fierce. A friend, a leading US hard scientist, was teaching at UC Santa Barbara in the 1990s. The local school was 80% immigrant kids. When my friend’s daughter was in 3rd grade, he was appalled to find out that she ranked in the 35th percentile in math. He came into the school for a teacher conference. Not to worry, he was told, “your daughter is the star of the class.”
    Schwartzenegger couild ameliorate the deficit problem by mandating all businesses use e-verify to make sure their employees are here legally.
    Any readers who think this is not a compassionate approach to this problem should google “compassion that hurts.” American workers are getting screwed, especially those at the bottom of the ladder.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Right you are David. 

      If you are undocumented, unreported and illegal person, other persons will do undocumented, unreported and illegal things to you. 

      The whole thing just makes a big farce of the idea of rule of law and equal treatment under the law, and demonstrates the unravelling of many of the things that made America wealthy and wealthy enough to be great (or great, and great enough to become wealthy.)

      Re. Governator, it would seem that in CA, one can come into office as a fiscal conservative, and be Transformerated into a tax and (continue to) spender.  (Bet he is glad that he has bumped-up against the hard stop of his term limit.)

  • avatar
    obbop

    The true cost of illegal aliens, anchor babies, etc. is impossible to even guess at but reputable sources even using minimal estimates typically compute a figure in the billions of dollars annually to California taxpayers.
    Political correctness may eventually destroy not only California but the entire USA.

  • avatar
    kansei

    I live in Phoenix, AZ… definitely most speed cameras here than any other area in North America. I love the speed cameras. No longer do I need to drop $500 on a radar detector and still be very afraid of speeding. No, now I just need to look for the required signage half a mile before a speed camera, and if I miss that signage there is requires signage 300ft before a speed camera as well. Nearly all of the numerous fixed speed cameras have tall signs on both sides of the roadway. The ford escape camera trucks deployed throughout the valley use little portable signs on the right side of the road. They’re easy to spot when there’s no traffic, which is the only time you have any hope of getting above the speed limit anyway.
    It’s so freeing not to have to be ultra paranoid about your speed when you see a cop car on the highway.. they don’t have radar equipment. The cameras don’t lie, they aren’t racist, etc. Go 11 mi/hr over the limit, they take a few photos of your car as well as some video, and you’ll likely get mailed a ticket (not guaranteed).
    Once you learn how to drive within the limits of the camera, there is so much less stress being on the road. The only annoyance now is idiots who think you have to go 50 in a 55 zone when there’s a camera, while everyone else is trying to go as close to but not above 65 as they can. It causes the traffic speed to ebb and flow. It’s a simple way to tax the rich.. those who can afford to keep paying the tickets can keep on speeding. There are no points involved with the camera tickets.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    At this stage of the game it’s not even clear that Mexifornia will even be a state in another year, but will become a US protectorate as they surrender what’s left of their sovereignty to the Feds.  Maybe Arnold can ask for a loan from the Mexican drug lords.

  • avatar
    stuki

                    I remember when A was first elected, and some Republican pundits wanted the constitution amended to allow foreign borns to become president. Thankfully, if nothing else, Barry Soetoro woke them up from that dream.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Just keep punishing the slobs that live here in CA,  Arnold. 

    I guess if the LADWP can justify paying for breast pumps for their lactating employees and bump utility costs up 30% in a year [to pay for “the drought”] locally, I guess we can get gimmicky traffic light revenue generators across the state.

    But still can’t get synchronized lights

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