taxes

By Melody Gutierrez
Thursday, September 3, 2015 – Updated 5:02 pm

SACRAMENTO — California drivers would pay $65 a year in a new highway user fee plus higher taxes at the gas pump under a $3.6 billion plan Gov. Jerry Brown is pitching to help fix the state’s roads, bridges and highways.

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 and Democrats. However, the plan will be a tough sell, particularly to Republicans.

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 spokesman Gareth 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 Our Roads 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.”

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