Bob Huff

Sen. Bob Huff says Republicans in the California Legislature are open to raising motorist fees to pay for road repair and construction. But GOP lawmakers will demand reforms in exchange.

Allen Young, Staff Writer
Sacramento Business Journal
Wednesday, Jul 22, 2015 – 1:48pm PDT
Updated Jul 22, 2015, 3:58pm PDT

When the California Legislature reconvenes next month for a special session on road funding, Republicans will be in the front seat — because Democrats need GOP support to impose new taxes or fees.

Some Senate Republicans are open to raising costs on motorists, said Senate Republican leader Bob Huff. But Democrats must first agree to bureaucratic changes that will increase efficiency and redirect existing road funds back into transportation, he said.

“The money we are already paying in the system has to go to transportation,” said Huff, a San Dimas Republican. “If (Democrats) can’t protect revenues now, and any other revenues we generate for transportation, we’re not playing ball.”

Increasing the gas tax may be the most palatable option for the GOP, said Huff, since the tax – now about 48 cents when combined with the federal charge – hasn’t been raised since the early 1990s. Republicans do not have an appetite for increasing the vehicle license fee, he said.

Huff said Republicans would also consider a flat fee on motorists. Earlier this year, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins proposed charging drivers about $52 a year, though that amount is subject to negotiation, said a spokeswoman for the Speaker.

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