Gov. Brown proposes gas tax hike to fund $52B plan to fix California roads

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Gov. Jerry Brown proposed raising $52 billion to fix roads through an increase in gas taxes along with higher car registration fees and a $100 charge on emission-free vehicles. (KABC)

The California legislature proposed raising $52 billion to fix the state's roads through an increase in gas taxes along with higher car registration fees and a $100 charge on emission-free vehicles.

The 10-year plan, proposed on Wednesday, would boost gasoline excise taxes by 12 cents a gallon, which is a 43 percent increase.

The plan also includes a sliding fee on vehicles, with owners of cheaper vehicles paying less.

Let your state representatives know what you think about the proposed gas hike.

For the first time, owners of emission-free vehicles would pay a $100 annual fee, since they use public roads but don't pay gasoline taxes.

Brown said the increase would translate to less than $10 a month for most drivers. The gas tax increase would be the largest in state history and would increase over time.

"Yes, it costs money. And if the roof in your house is leaking, you better fix it, because it gets worse all the time," Gov. Jerry Brown said at a Capitol news conference. "This is mostly about fixing what we already have. If for some reason people try to fight this, and God help us if they were successful, they won't defeat this, they'll just delay it and make the expenses go up."

Los Angeles residents Eyewitness News spoke to said that the proposed increase wouldn't be a good solution.

"I think this is the easiest solution for him, but I don't think they've really thought about it. I think this is something that they've had on the table for a while and just decided it's going to be acceptable to raise the gas prices because that's just an easy solution," West Los Angeles resident Jason Cowan said.

This winter, much of California experienced strong storms that saturated dry areas, causing damage to roadways. The state already has a multi-billion backlog in transportation repairs.

The proposal includes a constitutional amendment requiring that the money be spent only on transportation projects, and it would create an inspector general to make sure money isn't misspent.

Critics have long complained that money raised by transportation taxes has been siphoned off for other uses, something the constitutional amendment is designed to prevent. Republican lawmakers renewed that objection in a joint statement arguing that California already collects enough money if only it is spent on the right projects.

"Californians already pay some of the highest gas taxes in the nation," Republican lawmakers said in a joint statement, calling the Democrats' proposal a "costly and burdensome plan that forces ordinary Californians to bail out Sacramento for years of neglecting our roads."
The Democratic governor has said California has $59 billion in deferred maintenance on state highways and $78 billion on local streets and roads. Last month he suggested tax increases may be required to address the problem.

He has set an April 6 goal for the Legislature to pass a transportation funding package.

It's the third time Brown has attempted to address the multibillion-dollar backlog in transportation repairs and upgrades through tax increases.

In this new proposal is the following:

- The gasoline tax would raise $24.4 billion over 10 years.

- The state's current 16-cent-a-gallon diesel excise tax would climb by 20 cents, which is a 125 percent increase. It would raise $7.3 billion over 10 years.

- An increase in the diesel sales tax would raise $3.5 billion over 10 years.

- The sliding vehicle fee is similar to what owners already pay annually to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. It is projected to raise $16.3 billion.

- The $100 annual fee on emission-free vehicles would start in 2020 and raise $200 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Related Topics:
newsmoneygas pricestaxesroad repairjerry brownu.s. & worldlegislationCalifornia
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