Top California Democrat Proposes Fuel Tax

SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — The state Senate leader is proposing a tax on consumer fuel purchases of gasoline, oil, diesel, ethanol and natural gas, with the money raised diverted to transit projects and households of a certain income level.

The plan announced Thursday by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat, would not create an additional tax, however. Instead, it would alter how money is raised and spent under a provision of California’s 2006 greenhouse gas emissions law.

The 15-cents-a-gallon tax on consumer fuels envisioned by Steinberg would offset a tax that is scheduled to be imposed in 2015 under the existing law, known as AB32.

Two-thirds of the money raised would go to families making less than $75,000 a year as a tax credit, with the rest devoted to mass transit projects.

Environmental groups immediately opposed Steinberg’s plan, and Republican lawmakers questioned whether it could pass the Legislature.

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