Lawmakers Advance Proposal to Increase Gas Taxes and Vehicle Fees to Fund California Road Repairs

April 03, 2017

Los Angeles Times
By Patrick McGreevy

Faced with a personal appeal by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Senate panel on Monday gave the first approval to a measure that would raise gas taxes and vehicle fees by $52 billion during the next decade for road and bridge repairs.

The bill by Brown and legislative leaders was approved in a 5-2, party-line vote by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which sent it to the Senate floor, where it is proposed to come up for a vote in the next few days.

“The roads are broken and they are getting worse and they are not going to get better unless we get a significant injection of money,” Brown told the panel in rare testimony to a legislative committee.

The governor made similar comments later in the day to the Assembly Transportation Committee, where Republicans challenged him on the past diversion of transportation funds to the general fun. Brown noted the money went to pay debt on transportation bonds, so the money was properly spent.

Brown acknowledged that the tax increases are “a big lift” and are politically difficult. “I know there is a political concern because people don’t like gas taxes, but what do you do,” he said. He said if action is not taken this year, it might not happen for years.

“All the guys running for governor [in 2020] want to be president so they are not going to want to raise taxes,” he told the committee.

State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) was among the committee members who voted for the bill.

“The tax hasn’t increased in 23 years,” Hill said. “I think this is a reasonable approach in trying to balance the need with the demand.”

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