THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Guvernator Wants Budget Fix on Backs of Drivers -- Happy New Year!

We're back from the holidaze and hope everyone had a good, safe time.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has come up with a novel way to help the state's dismal budget.

He wants to let cities and counties install speed sensors in red-light cameras to ticket speeding drivers. Those whizzing by the detectors up to 15 mph above the limit would have to fork over $225 per violation. Those going faster than that would pay $325 under the plan.

Municipalities across the state have already installed cameras to catch drivers running red lights. Offenders receive a citation in the mail with a photo of the front seat of the car, showing who was driving. Judges throughout the state have forced cities with the cameras to tighten-up the cameras' standards because so many people challenged the citations in court and "beat the camera." While fines go to local and state general funds, but often the camera companies keep more than 50% of the fine amount, perhaps creating an atmosphere where cameras might be set slightly out of whack to catch more cars.

The governor wants to install speed detectors in 500 of those red light cameras, which would nab an estimated 2.4 million speeding violators per year, according to the finance department estimates.

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A dreaded red light camera; California's governor wants to add speed radar to many of them

That would net cash-strapped California about $337.9 million through June 2011. Every year after that, the program would generate nearly half a billion dollars, the state finance department says. Local governments would get a cut of the proceeds.

Many of the freeways in SoCal were built for safe driving at 85 miles per hour, and many people drive that speed on a daily basis. Thanks to the Teamsters' Union (the trucking lobby), the California Highway Patrol is not allowed to use radar for speed enforcement on freeways (but they can on secondary roads).

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The Pasadena Freeway was the first in SoCal, built when all the rich people lived in the Pasadena area and worked downtown

Drivers already pay for road maintenance through gasoline taxes ... how can fines squeezed out of drivers be used for the state general fund? Shouldn't they at least go to road maintenance?

And whatever happened to confronting your accuser in court? How do you cross-examine a camera?