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California Transportation Bill Would Increase Taxes on Gas, Diesel

Sen. Jim Beall's transportation funding bill has been renumbered for the special session and was amended on July 14 to include a 12 cents per gallon, or 40 percent, increase in the gas tax and a 22 cents, or 169 percent, increase in the diesel tax.
August 26, 2015, 2pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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SB X1-1, the number for the "Transportation Funding for Road Maintenance" bill in the special session, calls for the increased taxes and fees to be permanent, while SB 16,  Sen. Jim Beall's bill still active in the regular calendar session, requires the tax and fee program to be reauthorized every five years.

The initial gas tax increase included in SB 16 was 10 cents per gallon; 12 cents for diesel as posted here in April.

According to an SB X1-1 fact sheet, the funding legislation, introduced on June 22 and amended July 14, would:

  • Index the gas and diesel fuel taxes every three years.
  • Do away with the difficult-to-explain 2010 "Gas Tax Swap" that resulted in a six-cent decrease of the gas tax on July 1.

It would retain the two vehicle registration fees included in SB 16:

  • An increase of $35 in the annual vehicle registration fee.
  • A new $100 annual vehicle registration fee applicable to zero-emission motor vehicles [another of the many state electric vehicle (EV) fees) though new EV buyers will continue to receive up to $5,000 through the state Clean Vehicle Rebate Project].
  • Add a new $35 "road access charge" on all passenger vehicles, similar to the $50 charge proposed by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.
  • Remove the proposed increase in the vehicle license fee (VLF), a progressive fee based on the value of the vehicle.

The taxes and fees would "raise an additional $4-4.5 billion annually," with no impacts to the General Fund, which might sound attractive but not for Republicans, who want General Fund transfers to the pay for roads. Click on California State Assembly Republican Caucus press releases, scroll down to: "6/29/2015, Fixing Our Roads #MakeGovWork," to see the Republican plan, including, "a formal commitment in the State Budget General Fund to fund transportation" at the level of $1 billion annually.

As Democrats lack the two-thirds majority in both chambers, some Republicans will need to support SB X1-1. The special session ends September 11.

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Published on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 in Planetizen
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