CA Democrats want higher fees and taxes for state infrastructure


Sharing in a new emerging consensus in favor of substantial infrastructure spending, California Democrats have teed up the policy for early action in 2017, triggering renewed debate over the wisdom of funding the effort through significant new transportation-related fees and taxes.

Gov. Jerry Brown and other leading Democrats had signaled earlier in the month that infrastructure would be a priority in the new year. “It’s also expected to be one of [Donald] Trump’s first policy proposals,” Capital Public Radio noted — a rare area of overlap between Sacramento’s agenda and what soon will likely be Washington’s. While Trump has floated the outsized prospect of spending at the trillion-dollar level, some lobbyists pushing California Democrats for a robust package of their own are claiming “the state has tens of billions of dollars worth of backlogged projects, from congested bottlenecks to crumbling bridges,” according to the station. 

“Senate Bill 1 by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, calls for a phased-in 12-cent tax increase on gasoline, increased vehicle-registration fees as well as an annual $100 road maintenance fee for zero-emission cars,” Courthouse News reported. “The proposal would raise California’s gas tax for the first time since 1994, and reallocate $500 million in heavy-vehicle fees to road maintenance instead of paying down existing transportation bond debt.” 

“Democrats say raising the gas tax is the best way to make up tax revenues lost by Californians buying electric vehicles. The state’s fuel levy is currently 27 cents per gallon. With California facing an estimated $59 billion highway-maintenance shortfall over the next decade, Beall says the tax and vehicle registration fee hikes will fix the state’s roads and come with the added benefit of new jobs.”

From old to new

State Senate Democrats rolled out a total of five bills, some of which took advantage of the vogue for infrastructure spending to recast more traditional parts of their longstanding policy agenda. One bill, for instance, would offer “$1.2 billion to state programs that incentivize freight and trucking companies for reducing emissions,” Courthouse News added. 

Another bill with an environmental cast focused on water and recreation. The legislation “would fund state and local parks and water infrastructure through a $3 billion general obligation bond,” according to Reuters. “Despite recent rains, California is in the fifth year of drought. In 2014, state voters passed a $7.5 billion bond to fund water infrastructure projects throughout California.” Another bill would issue another $3 billion bond for increased housing. One affordable housing bill imposes a $75 real estate documentation fee. State Senate leader Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, cited “a high unmet demand for new water and natural resource investment,” the wire noted.

Bond battles

Advocates for private infrastructure financing have warned against tackling the state’s infrastructure challenges through recourse to big-ticket bond measures. “Governments and taxpayers could get far more value from private investors willing and able to finance total costs than they do from simple bonds with little accountability,” California Policy Center vice president of policy research Ed Ring observed in a recent Sacramento Bee op-ed. “The recent auction of the Indiana Toll Road to a consortium of pension funds (including CalPERS) for $5.7 billion demonstrates the value of high-quality infrastructure to institutional investors.”

“The American Society of Civil Engineers gives the state a dismal C- grade,” Ring noted. “The state’s water infrastructure has not been expanded since the 1970s and is designed for about half the current population. California’s transportation network is crumbling and congested, and its electrical grid is increasingly focused on renewable energy without a clear plan for storage and distribution.”

In the lead up to November’s elections, Gov. Brown pushed to defeat Prop. 53, an initiative designed to block bond measures that didn’t pass popular muster. “Proposition 53 would have required state revenue bonds, borrowing that’s generally paid back by users of a large public works project, of $2 billion or larger to be approved by voters statewide,” the Los Angeles Times recalled. “Revenue bonds could be an integral part of the future $17-billion effort to build twin underground water tunnels through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region. They could also be required to complete the controversial high-speed rail project from San Francisco to Los Angeles.”


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  1. Sean
    Sean 14 December, 2016, 09:08

    What is remarkable is Californians pay $0.40 per gallon in taxes and fees already (5th highest in the nation) and CARBS emission trading scheme should see fees rise steadily into the future. (A $0.12 per gallon increase in gas tax should make California the highest in the nation.) If you consider that the average car gets driven more than 12,000 miles per year and the average fuel economy is just over 26 mpg then drivers are currently forking over ~$200 is fuel taxes and fees and the SB1 legislation will make that $250. It would seem reasonable that electric vehicle owners (average household income $175K) could afford more than $100 per year to pay their share for road improvements $250 would put them on par with the less well off internal combustion engine dependent drivers.

    Reply this comment
    • bob
      bob 14 December, 2016, 15:58

      “…to pay their share for road improvements”
      ——————————–> you misspelled government pensions.

      Reply this comment
  2. Queeg
    Queeg 14 December, 2016, 10:19

    Of course Comrades, the way to Utopia and equality is collective taxation through use taxes… use…you taxed…simple….. cause nuttin is free!

    Where is the Donkey and Poodle on this…..usually they are bring their B Game!

    Reply this comment
  3. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 14 December, 2016, 13:31

    Lets start by taxing demacrats for their stupid ideas after all many demacrats are wealthy and Hot Air Tax on eco-wackos and the hollyweird celeberties who support them(DiCaprio,David,Travolta,Redford Etc)and spend the money of helping those who have lost their jobs and homes becuase of enviromentalists stupidity

    Reply this comment
  4. bob
    bob 14 December, 2016, 15:54

    Senate Bill 1 by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, calls for a phased-in 12-cent tax increase on gasoline, increased vehicle-registration fees as well as an annual $100 road maintenance fee for zero-emission cars,”

    No matter how high taxes are, they will never be high enough for the DemoNRats.

    And that goes for gooberment spending and debt!

    So bend over and smile, boyz.

    Demonrats are going to give you their “infrastructure” good and hard again.

    Reply this comment
  5. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 15 December, 2016, 13:59

    TAX & SPEND,TAX & SPEND,TAX & SPEND the clear call of the Liberal Damacratus

    Reply this comment
  6. Big Bad Bill Gore
    Big Bad Bill Gore 16 December, 2016, 08:47

    ALL of this will be dumped into pensions. Defined benefit government pensions with attendant benefits (DROP) are the holy chalice from which they drink. It is ALL they think and talk about, every minute of every ‘working’ day for their entire lives. Like the Ring of Mordor, the defined benefit government pension really is their ‘precious’ obsession. MY PRECIOUS, MY PRECIOUS!!

    Reply this comment
  7. Queeg
    Queeg 16 December, 2016, 09:29


    The working poor get to fund the pensions……simple

    Reply this comment
  8. Overtaxed and ready to go
    Overtaxed and ready to go 16 December, 2016, 16:01

    If the democrates keep taxing Californians the way they are,we will move elsewhere and they won’t even get the popular vote out of california.If they would have only used all the gas taxes to fix these projects to begin with all along instead of stealing them for the general fund Which they overspent on.

    Reply this comment
    • Ulysses Uhaul
      Ulysses Uhaul 16 December, 2016, 16:32

      We have Winter Soltice moving specials for you Russian misinformed, miserable deplorable doomers……

      Egyptian fine boxes, Mexican tuff packing twine, Belarus Red State multi-colored labels all 30% off through January 17th, 2017…..

      Remember your leader Honorable Jerry Brown doubling down on scareeeee climate change with The Donald……won’t end well for doomers…

      Reply this comment
      • Bill 'Righteous Wing' Gore
        Bill 'Righteous Wing' Gore 17 December, 2016, 07:31

        Doomers just handed your elegant black Jesus a big fat shit sandwich and made him eat it.
        It’s morning in America little buddy, and finally it’s flyover country that’s leading California towards real PROGRESS!
        Also, solstice is spelled with two S’s….I know, public schools JUST DON’T HAVE THE RESOURCES….

        Reply this comment
  9. Angeleno
    Angeleno 18 December, 2016, 12:15

    I support reducing income taxes, do not want property taxes to increase, but I would like to see a $1/gallon tax increase on fuel. For road improvements, to stimulate alternate fuels, and to reduce all the fricking traffic!!!

    Reply this comment

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gas taxGov. Jerry BrownJim Beallbond measures

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