California Governor Jerry Brown wants residents to pay $65 a year plus higher gas prices in a new bid to help fix the massive state’s bridges, roads, and highways. But many residents are not happy about the proposed bill.
From SF Gate:
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The Brown administration shared the plan with Republican leaders Thursday morning. It requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature because of the new taxes, and it has several elements meant to appease Republicans andDemocrats. However, the plan will be a tough sell, particularly to Republicans.
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The administration’s plan would create a highway user fee of $65 per vehicle, which would generate $2 billion and could be assessed during vehicle registration. Another $1 billion would be generated by raising the gas tax by 6 cents per gallon and the diesel tax by 11 cents per gallon. Those taxes would continue to rise based on the Consumer Price Index. The state would take $500 million from cap-and-trade revenue and $100 million from reducing the Department of Transportation’s budget and use it for road repairs.
“The administration’s proposal was put forth after engaging with Democrats, Republicans and lots of people who are concerned about adequate funding for our crumbling roads and highways,” said Brown spokesmanGareth Lacy. “It includes sensible reforms and sufficient revenue to improve our roads, bridges, public transit and trade corridors — all vital to boosting quality-of-life and economic competitiveness.”
Republicans have said they won’t support new taxes and Democrats have called for significantly more funding to address the state’s road maintenance shortfall. The governor’s proposal falls short of the $6 billion in annual funding for transportation fixes called for by the Fix OurRoads coalition, a group of business, city and county officials.
“It’s a rational middle ground,” said Jim Earp, an executive consultant for the California Alliance for Jobs, which is part of the Fix Our Roads coalition. “It gives a lot of ground in the area of reform that the Republicans asked for. On the money side, it’s less than what we asked for, but it’s enough to make a reasonable dent in our infrastructure needs.”
The governor’s proposal would split the $3.6 billion in funding between the state and local governments. The state would use $1.6 billion to improve state highways and $200 million to improve trade corridors.
Local governments would use $1.15 billion to improve local streets and roads, with $100 million of that coming in the form of grants from the state’s cap-and-trade revenue toward projects that lower greenhouse gas emissions. Local governments would also receive $400 million for transit grants and $250 million for a local partnership program.
The state would also accelerate transportation loan repayments to the tune of $879 million in a one-time payment using the rainy-day fund.
Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen of Modesto said the plan rightly includes many of the reforms her party has called for, including improved hiring at Caltrans to eliminate waste. But, she added, the GOP doesn’t agree with “more than doubling the vehicle registration fees and raising the price of fuel on all Californians.”
“Funds exist to fix our roads,” Olsen said. “It’s up to the majority party to recognize this.”
Brown called for a special session on transportation in June so that lawmakers can address a $59 billion backlog in infrastructure repairs. The legislative session ends next Friday, but the special session could resume in January if a deal is not reached.
“It’s a start from the administration,” said Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, who chairs the Senate’s transportation committee. “If we allocate too little, the road repair deficit doesn’t go away. That’s something I would question with the administration proposal. It’s not a problem solver. It’s a continuation of the existing status of road conditions.”
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