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California’s Proposal To Raise Taxes To Fix Roads

Sacramento, CA – Flanked by Democratic leaders Governor Jerry Brown unveiled a $52.4 billion plan Wednesday in Sacramento to fix California’s roads.

Brown was Friday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon summed up the situation this way, “For decades transportation in California has been getting worse and the funds to fix it has been drying up – Let’s be clear our roads suck [clapping and laughing].”

Acknowledging that the state has not increased the gas tax in 23 years, while during that time the population has grown by eight million, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León stated, “Fourteen legislatures have kicked the can down the crumbling and pot hole filled roads…The costs to our economy and to our livelihoods due to dangerous roads conditions are staggering and growing. This deal provides funds for every community in California.”

The Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, SB 1, would be paid for with a big increase in the gas tax, higher car registration fees and a $100 charge on emission-free vehicles. Governor Brown says the $5 billion-a-year program would cost most drivers less than $10 a month, will fix existing infrastructure and comes with strict new accountability provisions to ensure funds can only be spent on transportation. He argues waiting will cost taxpayers more, insisting, “Delay it and you’ll pay a lot more later. So, this actually saves money in comparison to delay and it does put people to work. These are American jobs [clapping] with good pay. So it’s all good. The only objection is political and I think that objection is weak.”

One of those objecting to the plan is Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner who counters, “Leave it to elite, cosmopolitan Democrats to try and raise the gas tax on working-class and poor Californians who must travel further distances to work.”

The leadership is pushing to have the measure voted on by Thursday, April 6. It will need two-thirds majority in the Assembly and Senate to pass because it raises taxes.

The Governor’s office released this breakdown of the proposal:

  • Fix Local Streets and Transportation Infrastructure (50 percent):
  • $15 billion in “Fix-It-First” local road repairs, including fixing potholes
  • $7.5 billion to improve local public transportation
  • $2 billion to support local “self-help” communities that are making their own investments in transportation improvements
  • $1 billion to improve infrastructure that promotes walking and bicycling
  • $825 million for the State Transportation Improvement Program local contribution
  • $250 million in local transportation planning grants

Fix State Highways and Transportation Infrastructure (50 percent):

  • $15 billion in “Fix-it-First” highway repairs, including smoother pavement
  • $4 billion in bridge and culvert repairs
  • $3 billion to improve trade corridors
  • $2.5 billion to reduce congestion on major commute corridors
  • $1.4 billion in other transportation investments, including $275 million for highway and intercity-transit improvements

Ensure Taxpayer Dollars Are Spent Properly with Strong Accountability Measures:

  • Constitutional amendment to prohibit spending the funds on anything but transportation
  • Inspector General to ensure Caltrans and any entities receiving state transportation funds spend taxpayer dollars efficiently, effectively and in compliance with state and federal requirements
  • Provision that empowers the California Transportation Commission to hold state and local government accountable for making the transportation improvements they commit to delivering
  • Authorization for the California Transportation Commission to review and allocate Caltrans funding and staffing for highway maintenance to ensure those levels are reasonable and responsible
  • Authorization for Caltrans to complete earlier mitigation of environmental impacts from construction, a policy that will reduce costs and delays while protecting natural resources

Guided by the principles set forth by President Ronald Reagan when he increased the federal gas tax in 1982, this transportation investment package is funded by everyone who uses our roads and highways:

  •  $7.3 billion by increasing diesel excise tax 20 cents
  • $3.5 billion by increasing diesel sales tax to 5.75 percent
  • $24.4 billion by increasing gasoline excise tax 12 cents
  • $16.3 billion from an annual transportation improvement fee based on a vehicle’s value
  • $200 million from an annual $100 Zero Emission Vehicle fee commencing in 2020
  • $706 million in General Fund loan repayments

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 on AM 1450 and FM 102.7 KVML.