California Lawmakers OK Tax, Fee Hike For Road Repairs
- Author: Larry Hoffman Apr 09, 2017,
Apr 09, 2017, 9:44
Governor Jerry Brown's $5.2 billion a year bill, which squeezed by in a late-night vote Thursday, will hike gas taxes and add a new vehicle fee to fix roads and infrastructure.
On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our supporters across California, I urge you to reject Gov.
And that is exactly what he will get under amendments to a separate bill, SB 132, which amends the Budget Act of 2016 to include $500 million for the projects.
For the last several days, Brown and the Democratic champions of SB 1 had tried to secure the votes - after a week of back-to-back rallies and deal making.
If approved, the measure would raise the base excise tax on gasoline by 12 cents per gallon, raise diesel taxes, and create a new annual vehicle fee that would average $51 based on the value of the auto or truck. Vehicle license fees would be raised an average of $38 per vehicle, and drivers would also face a new annual fee to be paid along with their vehicle registration, ranging from $25 to $175 depending on the value of their auto. Even before the Syria strike, consumers were forecast to pay more at the pump over the next few months, given the annual cycle of higher driver demand in the summer and as gas stations introduce a more expensive fuel blend, the AAA said.
Forgotten are the billions California families have already paid in levies for infrastructure fix every time they purchase gas and every time they register a new auto - and every year afterwards (unlike many other states). Jerry Brown - could really vault those prices to "the highest in the nation".
SB1 faced major opposition from environmental and health advocates, who said a provision in the bill giving the trucking industry a break from pollution regulations was not worth the trade-off for fixing roads and bridges. But legislators shouldn't be forced to choose between much-needed transit investments and clean air - especially in vulnerable communities.
His top adviser Nancy McFadden echoed Brown's message. "I know we have more roads and cars on the streets, but all these years the money that was collected for gas taxes, vehicle taxes and all of the other taxes has gone somewhere else".
"This bill will provide hundreds of thousands of jobs for poor people who need work and it will stimulate the economy", said Sen. The Senate voted 27-11 and the Assembly 54-26 in favor of the plan.
For the bill's proponents, there is nearly no margin for error.
In addition to Glazer, Connie Leyva, D-Chino, was also undecided on Wednesday. In terms of prioritizing, it will be up to cities and counties to determine what streets and expressways they want to spend their share of the money on.
For the time being, both proposals are still proposals.
Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes, of Yucca Valley, said pointedly on the floor that it appeared some of his colleagues had been "bought off" for their districts. Jim Beall, a San Jose Democrat who has been working on the transportation bill for two years.
Senate Republican leader Jean Fuller of Bakersfield blasted the Cannella deal and others that once-wavering lawmakers extracted from the governor as a very bad precedent. Other Republicans called for diverting money from the governors bullet train project. "However, the 50-cent-per-hour pay bump minimum wage workers got with SB 3 past year will instantly be erased by the tax increases in SB 1". This would be a simple procedure, as the Legislature has been diverting gas tax and auto registration fees for years to fund every favorite project of the legislators.
The California Legislature narrowly approved on April 6 a bill that would improve transportation infrastructure by increasing the gasoline tax and vehicle licenses fees.
But ignoring the problem could also come with a political cost.
Republicans painted the plan as the "greatest tax hike in California history", and said the bill includes no guarantee that the additional tax revenue will actually be spent on transportation projects.