CA lawmakers propose taxing drivers to pay for road repairs

Thursday, February 5, 2015
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There is a $59 billion backlog in infrastructure repairs to California roads, but the real work may be for lawmakers to convince drivers to pay for it.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- California roads are becoming a problem.

There is a $59 billion backlog in infrastructure repairs, but the real work will now be lawmakers trying to convince drivers they need to pay for it.

In the Bay Area, traffic takes its toll on the roads.

In turn, the state takes a toll and fees and taxes from you to help pay for road repairs.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins is proposing another fee to raise $2 billion dollars to fix California's crumbling roads, bridges and highways.

Most drivers would pay $52 a year, which is $1 a week. But no matter how little it costs many drivers aren't happy about the possibility of paying more.

"I feel like we pay enough in taxes. If they would just use the money more wisely they could maintain the roads," said Mark Darnell of Morgan Hill.

Lawmakers are facing the truth that gas tax revenues are going down as gas prices drop. There are also the growing number of electric cars which pay no gas taxes. That means there's less money for road repairs.

The new fee wouldn't be connected to the gas pump.

Assembly Speaker Atkins says it could be charged as part of insurance plans and vehicle registration. The state is also looking at charging drivers by miles instead of how much gas you buy, but that could take several years to implement.

Drivers of hybrid and electric cars may avoid the fuel tax, yet if this proposal is passed, they'll be paying the same fee as the gas guzzlers on the road.

"I consume less gas so I pay less. They consume more gas, they pay more. That's fair. I just don't want another way for them to tax us. That's why I really don't like it," explained Glenn Young.

Driver Alex Yeh believes: "Who use the road the most should pay more. So, have the tax in the gas is more reasonable compared to if everyone pays the same fee."

A two thirds vote of the legislature is required to pass new fees. A spokeswoman for the assembly GOP caucus said lawmakers can look beyond the fees because of higher than expected revenues and a bloated state transportation bureaucracy.