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Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
November 19, 2013

A former Caltrans director and a member of the state’s transportation panel have filed a proposed November 2014 ballot measure that would generate an estimated $3 billion a year for road improvements by more than doubling vehicle license fees.

The “California Road Repairs Act of 2014” would phase in a 1 percent surcharge to the fee, the equivalent of property tax on a home. The fee has been .65 percent of a vehicle’s market value since the late 1990s, with a temporary increase to 1.15 percent from May 2009 through June 2011.

In language filed with the Attorney General’s Office late Monday, proponents Will Kempton, the executive director of Transportation California who was Caltrans director from 2004 to 2009, and Jim Earp, executive director of the labor-management California Alliance for Jobs and a member of the California Transportation Commission, said “California is facing a transportation funding crisis.”

The proposed constitutional amendment, they wrote, would “provide essential funding for critical road repairs, maintenance, and expansion across the state.”

The proposal would be the first highway-funding ballot measure since Prop. 1B in 2006. That measure, backed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and placed on the ballot by the Legislature, authorized about $20 billion bonds for road projects.

Prop. 1B relied on borrowing backed by general-fund revenues, with a 30-year payoff. The road repairs act, though, would have a more direct impact on motorists’ wallets and involves the politically perilous vehicle license fee.

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