PHOENIX – The chair of California's Assembly Committee on Transportation unveiled legislation he said would provide revenue to meet the state's serious transportation needs.
Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, said his Assembly Bill 1591, announced Wednesday, would increase gas and diesel fuel taxes along with other fees to raise an additional $8 billion of funding. Gov. Jerry Brown had already called a special session last year to focus on transportation funding, and hearings were held but no solution emerged.
"California must invest in its trade corridors if we hope to develop and sustain economic vitality," Frazier said in a release. "Manufacturers and farmers want to be able to move their goods to market and AB 1591 will provide the investments we need to ensure that they can."
The bill would increase the excise tax on gasoline by 22.5 cents per gallon and index it against the Consumer Price Index every three years. The legislation would also increase the diesel tax by 30 cents per gallon and index it too, and hike the vehicle registration fee by $38 annually. It would impose an electric vehicle surcharge of $165, and require repayment of some $879 million of outstanding transportation loans. Repayments will be sent directly to cities and counties to boost their road improvement efforts, Frazier said.
Frazier said the ideas floated during the special session, when Democrats and Republicans continued to disagree over how much to raise California's already high fuel taxes, were not enough to meet the Golden State's needs. Democrats are dominant in both chambers of the legislature, but not by the 2/3 necessary to raise taxes without Republican support.
"You can't put out half a fire," Frazier said. "The funding proposals developed over the past year do not begin to sufficiently address our highway and bridge maintenance needs. Failure to adequately fund deferred maintenance is short-sighted and will leave our highways congested in gridlock."
The legislature reconvened Jan. 4.