SACRAMENTO (KPIX 5) — As California Governor Jerry Brown on Monday pushed for his new bill that would raise gas taxes and vehicle registration fees to fix the state’s broken roads, some Bay Area lawmakers were asking why they should rush to pass it.
The proposal would hike the gas tax by about 12 cents as well as imposing a new vehicle fee that would cost car owners about $50 annually.
Democrats on the Appropriations Committee approved SB1 in a party-line vote Monday. The measure advanced over the opposition of environmentalists who were angry that SB1 would relax clean-air mandates for trucks.
The provision was included to win support from truckers who would face a 20-cent hike in diesel taxes.
New television ads promoting the bill as a way to fix roads and fund local infrastructure projects recently began running throughout the state, urging constituents to tell their state legislators to support it.
The ads don’t mention that the plan means raising taxes on everyone with a car.
East Bay Assemblywoman Catharine Baker told KPIX 5 she certainly has heard from voters.
“And most of them are telling me, ‘Please do not raise my taxes again. Get the job right. We’re already sending you a lot of money. Show us that you know how to spend it wisely,'” said Baker.
Over the past 10 years, money budgeted to fix roads has decreased while the size of the budget has increased by more than $30 billon. Suddenly, there’s an emergency
Governor Brown says he wants a transportation tax plan to be voted on this week. But after so many years of neglect, he was asked why there was such a rush?
“I think it’s a rush. I want to get it done, ok?” said Brown.
The Governor’s proposal was shared with the legislature on March 30. That means lawmakers have seven days to consider and pass the new plan, which is pages long and contains taxes, fees and a constitutional amendment.
“I give them great credit for starting to put together their energy and focus on transportation, but let’s not be so artificial about it,” said Baker. “Let’s get it right. That isn’t something you do with deadlines.”
One obstacle to pushing the plan through the state legislature is getting the required two-thirds vote. With no Republican support, every single Democrat in the State Senate has to vote for it.
Bay Area Democrat Steve Glazer is not on board yet. While he would not go on camera to state the reason behind his opposition, there is word Glazer wants a provision forbidding future strikes by BART workers.
“You’ll regret any momentary exhilaration you feel by voting no,” said Brown in one of the several committee meetings he visited Monday.
Baker said her constituents were overwhelmingly against the bill because of the gas tax.
A recent KPIX 5 Survey USA poll shows Californians aren’t so willing to open their wallets. Only 23 percent think Caltrans needs more money. 61 percent say Caltrans should make better use of the money it already has.