Photo: Ken James/Bloomberg news

Photo: Ken James/Bloomberg news

Road Rage

Brown’s $3.6 billion California transit plan angers Republicans

Back Bloomberg Sep 8, 2015 By Alison Vekshin

California Governor Jerry Brown proposed a $3.6 billion transportation funding plan to repair the state’s roads and bridges that would raise gas taxes and for the first time impose a user fee on drivers.  

The plan circulated Sept. 3 is aimed at filling a $5.7 billion financing gap and drew rebukes from Republicans, who oppose raising fees and levies and instead have said they want to use existing revenue.  

“The administration’s ideas call for more than doubling the vehicle-registration fees and raising the price of fuel on all Californians,” Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen said in a statement. “We disagree and think Californians have paid enough. Funds exist to fix our roads.”  

Brown, a 77-year-old Democrat, in June called lawmakers into a special session to devise ways to fill the gap in California’s road-repair coffers. California is among U.S. states seeking more funding to make up for the shortfall left by shrinking gasoline taxes as engines improve and electric cars become more common.  

“The administration’s proposal was put forth after engaging with Democrats, Republicans and lots of people who are concerned about adequate funding for our crumbling roads and highways,” Gareth Lacy, a Brown spokesman, said in a statement. “It includes sensible reforms and sufficient revenue to improve our roads, bridges, public transit and trade corridors — all vital to boosting quality-of-life and economic competitiveness.”  

The plan, which requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature, would raise $2 billion through a $65 highway-user fee and $1 billion by indexing gas and diesel taxes to inflation. It would draw $500 million from the state’s cap-and- trade market and $100 million from making the California Transportation Department more efficient.  

“This represents a balanced approach that includes many of the concepts we’ve been talking about throughout this past year to address our critical funding needs for local streets, roads and state highways,” said Matt Cate, executive director at the California State Association of Counties.