Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon will join city and county officials in Riverside today to discuss the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017- SB 1, co-authored by Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) and Assemblymember Jim L. Frazier Jr. (D-Discovery Bay) – which invests $52.4 billion over the next decade to fix roads, freeways and bridges in communities across California and put more dollars toward transit and safety.
Gov. Jerry Brown will join state and local representatives in Riverside today to make his case for hiking gasoline taxes to pay for road repairs. Brown is scheduled to stand with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D- South Gate, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Moreno Valley, Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington and others at North Park to rally support for the Road Repair & Accountability Act of 2017.
Senate Bill 1, which could be voted on as early as , seeks a 20-cent per gallon increase in diesel taxes, a 12-cent per gallon hike in gas taxes and a 5.75 percent increase in diesel sales taxes, as well as higher vehicle license fees — up an average $38 per vehicle. The hikes would generate an estimated $5.2 billion in annual revenue, according to the governor’s office.
SB 1 requires a two-thirds vote to pass the Legislature, and with Republican lawmakers throughout the state aligned against the measure, a few Democratic votes in opposition could scotch its chances of reaching the governor’s desk. Among Inland Empire lawmakers, Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, has come out against it, along with Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Palm Desert, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, and Assemblyman Chad Mayes, R-Beaumont.
Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Indio, and has vowed to join Medina in supporting the proposal. Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Corona, said today that she is undecided.
The California Trucking Association issued a statement in support of the bill, hailing it as an “infrastructure package that will fix our roads, make vital upgrades to our freight system and protect the $200 million a year truckers invest in the cleanest, most efficient equipment available.”
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has railed against the gas tax package, saying it’s the product of tax-and-spend “Sacramento politicians and special interests.” “The state collects one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, but do they spend it all on roads and highways? No,” HJTA Director Jon Coupal said . “Much of the money we pay in car taxes, truck fees and gas taxes is diverted. So, a gas and car tax increase means we would be paying twice for the same service.”
Last week, in announcing the push to pass SB 1, Brown pointed out that “California has a massive backlog of broken infrastructure that has been neglected far too long.” “Fixing the roads will not get cheaper by waiting, or ignoring the problem,” he said. “This is a smart plan that will improve the quality of life in California.”
The package touts “strict new accountability provisions” to ensure funds are earmarked specifically for transportation projects, including highway and bridge repairs, enlargement of congested travel corridors and improved inter-city transit systems.
Melendez and other Republicans have called for scrapping the increasingly over-budget High Speed Rail Project and cutting state bureaucracy –– including an estimated 3,500 redundant workers in Caltrans — to save money that could be applied to infrastructure improvements.
“The Democrat majority has failed year after year to fix our roads, and now they are expecting the people of California to bail them out,” Melendez said.