CA gas tax showdown looms

Democratic legislators in the state Senate have brought Californians closer to new hikes on the cost of driving their cars. But the committee vote represented little more than a first step in a complex, intense negotiation between Republicans, Democrats and the man trying to stay influential but above the fray — Gov. Jerry Brown.

gas pumpRepublicans have resisted Democrats’ preferred approach, but California’s business lobby has pressed both parties to embrace new taxes and fees. “Last week, business organizations such as the California Chamber of Commerce and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group said any deal should seek to raise at least $6 billion annually by raising gas and diesel taxes and increasing vehicle registration and license fees,” the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Part of the rationale for increasing fees, instead of simply dialing up gas taxes, has centered around the growing popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles in California — and the state’s interest in squeezing revenue out of every car on the road. “We have these Teslas that are being sold and they don’t pay any gas tax,” complained state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, as CBS Sacramento noted.

Gas in California has remained higher on average than out-of-state, thanks to cap-and-trade fees and the state’s unique environmental rules about the blends of gasoline that must be sold. Current state taxes include an excise tax of 39 cents, between 30 and 42 cents in sales tax, and 10 cents for the cap-and-trade levy, as Watchdog Arena observed.

Brown stays secretive

At a recent news conference that left some observers hungry for detail scratching their heads, Brown refused to hint at a revenue source for the improvements. “I’m not going to say where the revenue’s going to come from, how we’re going to get it,” he said. “We’ll get it done, but I’m not going to put all my cards on the table this morning,” Brown said, according to ABC 7 News.

Brown was joined at the appearance by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, who signaled separately that negotiations would be tough. “It will be a bumpy road, but our constituents expect us to work together and figure something out,” she told the San Francisco Chronicle.

To date, the governor has not let slip whether he would support or oppose a tax hike to make up the difference.

Dueling proposals

That raised the possibility that Republicans might get their way, scrounging up revenue from savings and budgetary jujitsu instead of tax increases. But GOP legislators have been keen on siphoning revenue away from California’s cap-and-trade program, which Brown had availed himself of previously in order to fund construction spending on the state’s much-debated high-speed rail project. That has drawn strenuous objections from Sacramento Democrats.

The current proposal advanced by Assembly Republicans “would raise more than $6 billion a year by eliminating thousands of state employees and unfilled positions and reallocating existing state money, both from the budget and from other projects,” the Chronicle noted, while the plan pushed by Beall would raise billions with a suite of increased gas taxes and fees, including an “annual road access charge of $35 a vehicle,” according to the paper.

It was Beall’s bill that cleared its first committee test in the Senate this week, with Democrats besting Republicans in a party line vote.

For now, just a few broad outlines of an agreement have come into focus. According to the Chronicle, both sides reject the option of a “one-time fix, such as a bond measure that would pile more debt on the state. Any money raised must be earmarked only for road and infrastructure repair, and protected against being siphoned into other parts of the state budget.” Plus, legislators agreed that expenditures should be clearly identified and made public, with some kind of oversight and monitoring built into the arrangement.

22 comments

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  1. Bruce
    Bruce 27 August, 2015, 06:33

    I’ll be short…ASAP, adios Ca.

    Reply this comment
  2. Colonel Bill Killgore
    Colonel Bill Killgore 27 August, 2015, 08:46

    “…to embrace new taxes and fees. “

    Isn’t that always the case?

    Tax ’em to the stone age, son!

    Tax’em good and hard then tax’em again!

    I love the smell of tax increases in the morning!

    Colliefornia has the highest gas tax in the country and its going higher. So you had better start embracing, tax serfs. Just bend over and grab your ankles.

    Reply this comment
    • Queeg
      Queeg 27 August, 2015, 09:25

      Comrades will be poorer!

      Fees and regulations and energy add ons are like flat taxes on the struggling.

      And Prius suckers and those subsidy seeking pikers who put crap junk on their roofs to save ten bucks a month will pay usage fees to the moon!

      Reply this comment
  3. Charlie Bean
    Charlie Bean 27 August, 2015, 11:10

    Be fine as long as it goes to the needs of transportation and improving its infrastructure, not some screwed up pet project like the bullet train Governor Brown supports for his rich buddies. The issue is, the money needs to go to the cities and counties mostly to fix road and improve infrastructure and not touched for anything else. The federal government is reducing what they fund compared to past funding. Local governments struggle and our rural counties and cities suffer.

    Reply this comment
  4. Mr. Responsible
    Mr. Responsible 27 August, 2015, 11:31

    Yet again, the DEMOCRAT party is pushing this down the CA taxpayers throat. Yet, if has NOT been fully disclosed to WHO is slicing into the existing Gas Tax Funds for programs OTHER that what was PROMISED to the taxpayer for the intended use of fuel taxes. Until EVERY agency or group is identified, and at what financial level they receive said supplemental funding, this BILL MUST go down in flames. Every time we give more of something to the legislature, they spend it on other stuff in the name of the General Fund, rather that the intended legislation purpose.
    When are CA residents going to wake up. We have a TAX or FEE on everything, and they want more and more and more.
    ENOUGH! I will be blunt here to Democrats. How can you continue to support this carnage? Our state is broke, and in the hole EVEN after the 8 billion surplus.
    Time for leaders to put on their Big Boy pants and show some guts…………

    Reply this comment
    • bob
      bob 27 August, 2015, 12:08

      They are DemoNRats and they are destroying what’s left of the middle class. With all the taxes and fees this state will be unaffordable for all but the rich.

      Reply this comment
  5. bob
    bob 27 August, 2015, 12:07

    As mentioned before we have the highest gas taxes in the country, but also we have the worst roads. (Walters at the Sac Bee wrote about this, I believe last week.)

    This combination of the highest gas tax with the worst roads just proves that no matter how high the gas tax is it will NEVER be high enough.

    When are the people going to realize this?

    Where is the outrage?

    Reply this comment
  6. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 27 August, 2015, 12:48

    Booboo.

    We have 5-6 million visitors to provide MediCal…..30 percent of school kids are visitors.

    Run the numbers.

    Reply this comment
    • bob
      bob 27 August, 2015, 12:53

      Of course! Why didn’t I think of that! I am just not a genius like you.

      Reply this comment
  7. bob
    bob 27 August, 2015, 13:08

    And don’t forget Teddy, Ahaul, Queeg and whoever else is in there we gotta come up with tens of billions of $ for Brownie’s choo-choo to nowhere, The Bullet Train.

    Such an un-PCname. How dare the DemoNcRats name it that. Don’t they remember the Washington Bullets changed their name to Wizards?

    Maybe Brownie can call his choo-choo The Wizard Train. After all it’s a wiz at flush tax money down the crapper!

    Reply this comment
  8. Mike Schwartz
    Mike Schwartz 27 August, 2015, 14:15

    Didn’t we just make diapers tax free because taxes hurt single working moms? 
    Don’t single working moms drive?

    Reply this comment
  9. Red Dwarf
    Red Dwarf 27 August, 2015, 15:44

    Prop. 13 will be the next victim of the Demorats!

    Reply this comment
    • Bruce
      Bruce 27 August, 2015, 19:20

      The Democrats are definitely after Prop 13 and nearly repealed it not too long ago when they had the Super Majority minus two thugs that got arrested and had to leave the Senate, thank God. Just imagine what a repealed Prop 13 would do to the state. I couldn’t agree with you more.

      Reply this comment
  10. Dude
    Dude 27 August, 2015, 17:49

    Just say no

    Reply this comment
  11. desmond
    desmond 27 August, 2015, 20:02

    Here is something to make everyone feel good. There was a climate Change symposium in SAC this week including people from the governor’s staff. Looking into the future, they noted dealing with climate change would be difficult given that California would be ACCEPTING 11,500,000 new citizens over the next two decades. Something may stop this, like plague or nuclear war. California could surpass the Congo as the body odor capital of the planet. Cow ass cologne may be a top seller because having your nostrils smelling a cow’s ass from, like inside, is a step up from getting a whiff of everyone in your office.

    Reply this comment
  12. THE TRUTH
    THE TRUTH 28 August, 2015, 09:28

    SB350 by DeLeon makes gas tax increase look like a nice day.Total control of our daily lives will become the norm.

    Reply this comment
    • bob
      bob 28 August, 2015, 13:24

      And there will be no reason to have major concerns about roads the way the Demonrats are going. Fuel and cars will be so expensive few will be able to afford to have and use cars.

      Reply this comment
  13. Sugar Bear
    Sugar Bear 28 August, 2015, 19:06

    Just remember, socialism works until you run out of other people’s money.

    With all of your public service unions draining the state treasury they have to get the money from somewhere and since EVERYONE in the state of Mexifornia drives where do you think is the most logical place.

    Spanglish is going to be your official state language pretty soon and remember illegals don’t pay taxes except at the pump or cash register. to quote your former guv Arnold, Hasta la vista, baby

    Reply this comment

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