Gas Tax Hike: Local impacts of governor's road repair plan - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Gas Tax Hike: Local impacts of governor's road repair plan

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8 / AP) - California's governor and legislative leaders have proposed raising $52 billion to fix the state's roads through a big gasoline tax increase, higher car registration fees and a charge on emission-free vehicles.

The 10-year plan would boost gasoline excise taxes for the first time in more than two decades, raising them 12 cents per gallon - a 43 percent increase. The tax would rise automatically with inflation.

For the first time, owners of zero emission vehicles would pay a $100 annual fee because they use public roads but don't pay gasoline taxes that fund highway maintenance.

The plan also includes a sliding fee on vehicles, with owners of cheaper vehicles paying less. The fee, separate from annual vehicle registration fees, would range from $25 a year for vehicles worth less than $5,000 to $175 for cars worth $60,000 and up.

"This plan is a a real solution. People have been willing to kick the can down the road when it comes to road repairs and that is why we have so many potholes," said Assembly member Todd Gloria. 

Gov. Jerry Brown said the plan would cost most drivers less than $10 per month and would be offset by reduced vehicle-repair expenses. The governor and Democratic legislative leaders hope to rush it through the Legislature next week.

"Yes, it costs money. And if the roof in your house is leaking, you better fix it, because it gets worse all the time," Brown said at a Capitol news conference. "This is mostly about fixing what we already have. If for some reason people try to fight this, and God help us if they were successful, they won't defeat this, they'll just delay it and make the expenses go up."

The proposal aims to address a $59 billion backlog in deferred maintenance on state highways and $78 billion on local streets and roads.

Members of the Fix Our Roads Coalition, a group representing business, labor and local government interests lobbying for a transportation funding deal, said they supported the plan unveiled Wednesday.

Critics have long complained that money raised by transportation taxes has been siphoned off for other uses, something the constitutional amendment is designed to prevent. Republican lawmakers renewed that objection, arguing that California already collects enough money with some of the highest gas taxes in the country but spends it on the wrong projects.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said the state has plenty of money that could be redirected to transportation funding without raising more money from residents who already pay some of the nation's highest state-level taxes.

The governor has set a deadline of April 6 for a vote on this new package - a day before the legislature leaves on its spring break. 

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