By Jason KUROSU
A proposal that would raise state gas taxes and charge a vehicle fee to California drivers is unlikely to pass before legislative sessions end this Friday.
Gov. Brown’s proposal would provide $3.6 billion annually for rehabbing roadways with a 6-cent gas tax increase and an 11-cent diesel tax increase. A $65 annual vehicle registration fee would also be included, along with fees charged from the state’s cap and trade program, which penalizes companies that generate above a certain level of pollutants.
With the last day of the state senate and assembly’s legislative sessions approaching, legislative leaders in Sacramento rushed to address numerous bills and proposals, including the governor’s, which requires a two-thirds majority vote. However, gaining the necessary number of votes was deemed problematic for Brown even early on, as securing Republican support for his proposal is needed, despite the party’s general opposition to tax increases.
Local representatives from politics and business weighed in on the proposal.
Assemblymember Mike Gatto said, “Our roads are not in the best shape that they could be, but then again, I’m not going to burden taxpayers on something small unless it’s something that makes sense.”
Glendale City Councilmember Paula Devine said, “I am certainly in favor of funding for maintaining our infrastructure. We must work together, state and local governments, to maintain the conditions of our roads. I am in favor of a moderate increase in fees, but they must be distributed in a fair and equal manner. All those who use them should pay to maintain them. It is proven that poor roads contribute significantly to wear and tear on our vehicles. If we can prevent that costly expense, with a moderate raise in fees, from all stakeholders, we can move forward to better quality roads and highways.”
Tom Scott, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, released a statement in opposition of the proposal.
“While we agree that now is the time to utilize public-private partnerships, become more efficient in making road repairs and streamlining processes at Cal Trans, we don’t agree that raising taxes to accomplish these goals is the right thing to do at this critical point in California’s economic recovery,” Scott said. “Increasing the vehicle registration fees and fuel prices are not the answers to fixing California’s deteriorating roads. Funds are already being collected for this purpose and need to be utilized for what they were intended. With all the other increases that small businesses are facing – minimum wage, and workers’ comp insurance to name a few, now is not the time to add more burdens to our state’s job creators.”