Lawmakers OK California tax, fee hike for roads

Governor to join Inland reps to argue for gas tax increases

California lawmakers yesterday approved a $5-billion-a-year plan for boosting California's gas and vehicle taxes. Lawmakers were in a rush to take action on SB1 by Thursday, before the state Legislature begins its weeklong spring break.

The administration of Brown, a Democrat, has stressed that one regulatory framework is needed to avoid duplicating costs and confusing businesses in a marijuana economy expected to grow to $7 billion in annual sales annually after recreational sales become legal in California next year.

In the State Senate, the vote was only slightly more favorable to the governor.

Unfortunately, they accomplish this through another round of massive tax and fee increases that punish California businesses and working-class families.

California lawmakers on Thursday approved legislation to increase gasoline taxes and other transportation-related fees for the first time in decades, to fund an ambitious $52 billion plan to fix the state's sagging infrastructure. The bill passed the Senate with the minimum votes needed 27-11. The leaders were short on votes but unwilling to restart the 72 hour waiting period that would have been triggered if they had amended the bill. "California roads are deteriorating", Brown said.

"Oil companies should be giving some of that back to fix the roads themselves", Liza Tucker, the group's consumer advocate, said in the letter.

Brown has attempted to justify this measure by claiming that the use of state roads is a privilege that all California taxpayers must be on the hook for.

The payback: $427 million for the Riverside County Transportation Efficiency Corridor; it overlaps the two lawmakers' districts, both of which happen to be swing districts where a multi-million gift to voters could well ensure the district goes Democratic in the next election.

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"I don't know what opponents expect - the tooth fairy to fix the roads?"

The bill is the first major legislation that must comply with an initiative approved previous year by voters that requires lawmakers to publish legislation for 72 hours before voting on it.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, who was also at the news conference, echoed Brown's comments.

Representatives of the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, comprised of Southern California marijuana businesses, said they're still reviewing the plan. Additional pressure on three Democratic holdouts helped the measure squeeze by with just enough votes, 54-26. Brown's gas tax hike will be the first test on how easily California Democrats will leverage their supermajority status to raise taxes on a party line vote.

After a nail-biter vote in the Assembly, the $52-billion transportation package cleared the Legislature late Thursday night and now goes to Gov.

To win support from truckers, who would face significantly higher fuel costs, Brown and top lawmakers agreed to prohibit the state from requiring them to retire or retrofit trucks before they're 13 years old or reach 800,000 miles.

The proposal drafts several revenue sources, including a 12-cent increase on the current gasoline excise tax, which has not increased in 23 years. Vehicles worth $5,000 or less would pay $25 a year while those worth $60,000 or more would pay $175 annually.

Republicans opposed the bill and say they have a plan to fund transportation repairs without increasing the gas tax. Democrats have supermajorities in both houses, but the governor still needs to woo some moderate Democrats who might be on the fence about such a large increase.

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