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Gov. Brown testifies on proposed gas-tax hike

Gov. Brown testifies on proposed gas-tax hike

Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders, lawmakers in California's Senate and Assembly approved a key multi-billion transportation spending plan late Thursday night. Therefore, every Democrat must vote yes except one in the Assembly - and possibly one in the Senate, depending on Cannella.

Brown, who was sacked up when he spoke to reporters after the vote, said he was proud of the Democratic Party for doing something that will help Californians.

• The base excise tax on gasoline goes by 12 cents per gallon to 30 cents. If, like many of our neighbors, you drive a Ford F-150, Toyota Camry, or other vehicle worth $25,000 to $34,999, your Highway User Fee would increase by $100 annually.

Combined, the new taxes and fees are projected to raise $52.4 billion over 10 years for road repairs and other transportation projects. "We need the roads; we need the infrastructure so there is a sense of urgency which compels this measure". "States can't do it on their own", DeFazio says.

Republicans condemned the plan, saying the state's transportation taxes and fees were already among the highest in the country. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office "recommends that the Legislature reduce the budget and staffing levels of the program starting with the 2014-15 budget, improve its staffing projects and data quality, and provide the California Transportation Commission with specific oversight and project approval functions that have limited external oversight". The costs broke down to $59 billion for highway repairs and $71.3 billion for local streets and roads.

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"The Democratic Party is the party of doing things, and tonight we did something to fix the roads of California, " Brown said after the vote.

Below is a copy of the letter ATR sent to California legislators today, urging them to reject Gov. Adam Gray (D-Merced) - but because they have not been in print for 72 hours, they can not be brought up for votes today.

The vote in the State Assembly was incredibly close, with the measure receiving no more than the 54 votes needed. "This is a fee - a fee for the privilege of driving on our roads that the people pay for". The cost to the average driver will be about $10 a month. About $785 million would go to transit construction and operations.

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.

For a lesson in how Capitol politics works, take a look at the gasoline tax bill, and the trucking industry's hand in it.

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"I don't think that is a model that is going to be viewed as successful or that you can use it for all of the infrastructure needs that the USA has", Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the center-right American Action Forum think tank, told the Associated Press. "We passed a road-funding solution that will not take a dime out of the general fund, preserving revenue for our schools, universities, and human services". This amount of money would be used to fix California's streets, highways and bridges; it would also be used to increase mass public transportation.

An amendment of about 300 words is buried in Section 18 of Senate Bill 1, a bill that has 50 sections.

Liza Tucker, consumer advocate for Consumer Watchdog, said Californians are "paying 65 cents or 70 more a gallon and there's no excuse for it". "The more we delay fixing our roads, the more costly the repairs will become".

No one doubts that California's roads and highways are in bad shape.

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