Gas Taxes Are Too DAMN High

Gas Taxes Are Too DAMN High

Hardy L. Brown. Photo by Benoit Malphettes

According to the governor’s office, the passage of SB 1 or Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 will be funded by increases to the state’s excise tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, as well as an annual “transportation improvement fee” based on a vehicle’s value. There is a new $100 “zero emissions vehicle” fee that will be assessed to clean energy vehicles beginning the year 2020. This is what the cost will be for you the consumers of California; your gas will go up by 12 cents per gallon. Your diesel tax will go up by 20 cents per gallon. There will be a new fee on vehicles based on their value. Vehicles worth $5,000 or less would pay $25 a year. This will hit all poor people who own a car and drive anywhere. While those worth $60,000 or more would pay $175 annually. 

Governor Brown said, “California has a massive backlog of broken infrastructure that has been neglected far too long and fixing the roads will not get cheaper by waiting – or ignoring the problem.” I know Brown knows this to be true because he was the one who stopped the completion of the 210 freeway when he was elected governor the first time. In my opinion it is not about the quality of life but Brown trying to leave a legacy of what he has done to improve the quality of life in California. While that is a nice and lofty goal, he has made it tougher on all people especially on senior citizens/retirees, the lower middle class, and those below the poverty level especially here in the Inland Region. 

The gas tax will not only affect the drivers but this cost of producing products and getting them to the consumer will drive prices higher. The rich will not feel the hike in prices right away but the companies who use any kind of transportation to deliver their good to you will have to raise their costs before November 1 or shortly there after in order to stay in business. As a former school board trustee I am aware that the cost to transport children to school will bring about the shifting of budgets and impact the classroom. Your gardener or landscaper will have to charge you more as well as the person delivering your newspaper. Your local cab company, garbage pick up, public safety service cost will increase by this historic gasoline tax passed by the Democratic supermajority in the legislature. Even the poor people who just got a mandated $15 minimum per hour wage increase will now lose it to the cost of getting to work. I know what I am talking about from my experience as a human relations manager, business owner, school board member and an hourly worker for the steel industry and electric company. What I am talking about are the unintended consequences of rushing to pass a bill just because you have some ill advised and spineless elected officials in the legislature that will do what they are told by those in leadership. 

I must however take this opportunity to commend my friend State Senator Richard Roth of Riverside County’s 31st District who had the courage to tell the governor and Kevin de Leon, president pro Tem of the senate what his people need and he got $420 million for transportation infrastructure above and beyond what’s being spent on road repairs and maintenance. The projects slated to get funding include: $180 million for the 91 Freeway/ Interstate 15 North Connector, $48 million for the I-15/Limonite interchange, and $84.45 million for the McKinley Grade Separation. 

State Senator Roth said, for too long, Sacramento has failed to provide Inland Southern California with the resources we deserve, and though this was a difficult vote, the cost of our region not getting its fair share is too high. “That is why I went to the table to ensure Inland Southern California’s needs are represented with the vigor and dedication they deserve.” He had the courage to say no, unless his people are taken care of. 

On the other hand State Senator Connie Leyva of Pomona that represents San Bernardino, Rialto, Fontana and Colton, and Assembly Member Eloise Gomez Reyes of the 47th Assembly District got zero for our communities. Mind you we will pay at the pump into a fund that is expected to raise $52 billion and we don’t know what we will receive in return. She could have at least made sure some of our transportation priorities were covered. 

One of the reasons Governor Brown wanted to rush this bill through is according to a 2015 poll conducted by the University of California Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, 63 percent of Californians are against raising the gas tax. In a memo sent to Assembly member Vince Fong of Bakersfield from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, California’s cap-and-trade program would also raise gas prices by an estimated 63 cents per gallon in 2021 and 73 cents per gallon in 2031. Assembly member Fong went on to say, “when considering and evaluating the transportation funding package, we cannot look at gas taxes in a vacuum. This legislature is also seeking to extend cap-and-trade, which will significantly increase the cost of gas at the pump, which combined with the proposed gas tax, could be about $1 per gallon for motorists.” 

Now that is too damn high!

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