New Gas Tax Legislation Proposed For CA MPOs

Unlike a state gas tax, SB 791 calls for regional planning agencies to prepare a measure to go before voters in their jurisdiction that would place a new fee on fuel to improve mobility, called a "regional congestion reduction charge".

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's "California Transportation Commission: annual report" bill was entirely amended on August 25 to allow the state's metropolitan planning organizations to raise transportation revenue through a voter initiative that would require only majority voter approval. Proponents claim that Proposition 26, passed last Nov., allows for specified exemptions to the requirement that fees receive two-thirds voter approval.

In addition to the "motor vehicle fuel fee" there would be an annual charge on electric vehicles.

"News of this change broke over the weekend, and already transportation groups such as the Bay Area's TransForm are already providing Action Alerts for Californians to contact their representatives in Sacramento.

Revenues could pay for transit capital, operations and maintenance; bicycle and pedestrian programs and projects; programs and projects that would demonstrably reduce the growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT)..."

Thanks to Streetsblog San Francisco

Full Story: New Legislation Seeks to Lower Voter Threshold for Transit Tax Approval

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Comments

Irvin Dawid's picture
Correspondent

When a fee requires only majority voter passage

CapitolAlert reports that only a few days after Steinberg's bill was amended to allow majority voter passage of a regional gas tax, the California Taxpayers Association "has issued a 20-page guide delineating taxes and fees under a new voter-approved law." How convenient!

For a quick read, see their one-page, (PDF) Press release, Tax or Fee? California Taxpayers Association Releases Proposition 26 Compliance Guide. Or eat your heart out and read the 20-page (PDF) UNDERSTANDING PROPOSITION 26:
A sponsor’s guide to California’s new tax structure
.
(August 2011).

Irvin Dawid's picture
Correspondent

CapitolAlert: SB 791 gives locals power to raise fuel surcharge

According to the article, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg called his bill "an effort to 'create a local option' for funding transit projects, saying it is 'very consistent with the work that we've done this year on bringing services closer to the people' through realignment of state and local functions."

"The state does not have the financial capacity to adequately fund transit and road improvements, and if we can't afford it we ought to at least give the regions of this state the ability to go to the voters and raise money for important priorities like transit and road improvements," he said.

"The California Taxpayers Association has issued a letter to members of the Assembly outlining opposition to the bill and raising concerns that it believes the measure should be subject to a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, not a majority vote." (See below for their latest publication on this issue).

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