California gas, vehicle tax hike advances in Legislature

California Gov. Jerry Brown waits to speak a rally to urge lawmakers to approve a plan for a $5 billion-a-year tax and fee road fix measure during a rally Wednesday, April 5, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif.

The key vote to raise Californians' gas taxes and vehicle fees Thursday came from a little known Republican lawmaker. Jerry Brown never ceases to disappoint. The measure was approved by the necessary two-thirds margin in both the Senate and Assembly Thursday night. "Harry Truman went around and gave 'em hell", Brown said. "It helps bring prosperity".

Residents and some state leaders have said they oppose the tax, citing that Californians already face some of the highest taxes in the nation.

The road-repair tax hike is backed by a coalition that includes the unions whose members will get the jobs and organizations such as the California Nevada Cement Association and the Flasher Barricade Association.

"We aren't taxing champagne and caviar here", said senator Ted Gaines, a Republican from El Dorado Hills outside Sacramento. Transportation costs families more than food and more than twice what they spend on healthcare.

Tuesday, he said that the investment in long-postponed repairs now will save the state money in the long run.

"I just think it's absolutely ridiculous the way that we're just being bombarded and we have no say so", she said.

Brown and Senate president pro tem Kevin de Leon had a particularly tough time in the legislature's upper chamber.

Afterwards, Brown and a bunch of triumphant lawmakers emerged from the governor's office to take a victory lap.

According to Cannella, he supported the bill after the governor and Democratic leaders agreed to two of his requests.

Three Democrats - Al Muratsuchi of Rancho Palos Verdes, Jim Cooper of Elk Grove and Tim Grayson of Concord - were the last to cast their votes in the Assembly. Let's negotiate with each other and get to "yes" to reach the 2/3rds requirement needed for passage.

Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Modesto, was the only Republican to vote for the deal.

Bay Area Democrat Steve Glazer is not on board yet. This week is a major turning point to potentially provide a solution, as the California legislature is set to vote on SB 1, a proposal to raise approximately $52 billion in funding over the next 10 years specifically for transportation.

State highways and transportation infrastructure would receive about $50 billion annually. The proposal was created to fix potholes and repair bridges, but also provide funds for public transit and biking and walking trails. Diesel sales taxes would also rise. These fees and taxes would increase every year with inflation.

At the same time, he is sure to support an ill-advised Senate bill declaring California a "sanctuary state". The measure will be on the 2018 ballot.

Republicans were unanimous in their opposition to the measure. "They depend on you and me to look after their best interests", Stone said on the Senate floor. However, the move upset environmentalists who said it is likely to hinder regulations such as limitations on emissions at ports, warehouses and airports that indirectly affect truckers.

Since 2004, California has lost more than 1 million people, representing a $26 billion net income loss.

The bill also earmarks $472 million for the Riverside County Transportation Efficiency Corridor in Democratic Sen.

Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Kern County) has introduced a rival bill, AB 496, which would put together the taxes and fees we already pay for transportation and use that money to fix the roads. "SB1 totally fails to do that".

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