RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — Gov. Jerry Brown will join state and local representatives in Riverside Tuesday to make his case for raising gas taxes to pay for road repairs.
Brown is scheduled to join Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-South Gate, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Moreno Valley, Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington and others at North Park to rally support for the Road Repair & Accountability Act of 2017.
The bill seeks a 20-cent per gallon increase in diesel taxes, a 12-cent per gallon hike in gas taxes, a 5.75 percent increase in diesel sales taxes and an increase in vehicle license fees – up an average of $38 per vehicle.
The hikes would generate an estimated $5.2 billion in annual revenue, according to the governor’s office.
Senate Bill 1, which could be voted on as early as Thursday, requires a two-thirds vote to pass the Legislature.
With Republican lawmakers aligned against the measure, a few no votes by Democrats could scotch its chances of reaching the governor’s desk.
Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Palm Desert, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, and Assemblyman Chad Mayes, R-Beaumont, are among those opposing the legislation.
Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Indio, and Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Corona, will join Medina in supporting the proposal.
(UPDATE 4/6: A statement later provided by Cervantes read: “I am continuing to assess the language in SB 1 and the impacts it may have on Western Riverside County.”)
The California Trucking Association issued a statement in support of the bill, hailing it as an “infrastructure package that will fix our roads, make vital upgrades to our freight system and protect the $200 million a year truckers invest in the cleanest, most efficient equipment available.”
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has railed against the gas tax package, calling it “an insult to taxpayers.”
“The state collects one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, but do they spend it all on roads and highways? No,” HJTA Director Jon Coupal said Sunday. “Much of the money we pay in car taxes, truck fees and gas taxes is diverted. So, a gas and car tax increase means we would be paying twice for the same service.”
Last week, in announcing the push to pass SB 1, Brown pointed out that “California has a massive backlog of broken infrastructure that has been neglected far too long.”
“Fixing the roads will not get cheaper by waiting, or ignoring the problem,” he said. “This is a smart plan that will improve the quality of life in California.”
The package touts “strict new accountability provisions” to ensure funds would be earmarked specifically for transportation projects, including highway and bridge repairs, enlargement of congested travel corridors and improved inter-city transit systems.
Melendez and other Republicans have called for scrapping the increasingly over-budget High Speed Rail Project and cutting state bureaucracy – including an estimated 3,500 redundant workers in Caltrans – to save money that could be applied to infrastructure improvements.
“The Democrat majority has failed year after year to fix our roads, and now they are expecting the people of California to bail them out,” Melendez said.
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