Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent road-repair plan has stirred hot debates in California State Assembly since Republicans can’t believe that there is no money to fund repairs and refuse to put a vote on boosting taxes.
Gov. Brown plans to pay for road maintenance with money from higher road taxes, gas taxes, and vehicle fees. He handed the plan to his political rivals Thursday, but the minority party is set to refuse any tax increase. GOP leaders from both Senate and Assembly said that the governor’s plan to hike taxes is unrealistic.
Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, said that there was no need to boost taxes because the budget has enough money to cover for the repairs. The only problem is that Democrats decline to recognize it.
Nevertheless, both parties agree that the road-repair plan needs more funding, they do disagree on where to get the money from. Gov. Brown said he needed more money for the plan early this year in his state of the state address but declined to be more specific on the sources he would be using.
Back then, governor’s office explained that Republicans were as well concerned about the lack of funding necessary to repair “our crumbling roads and highways.” The governor had in mind reforms and other revenue sources, but he didn’t provide more details.
If completed, the transportation plan would produce more than $3.5 billion per year. Additionally it would lead to a regulatory relief that GOP leaders are after. Nevertheless, the estimated revenues are much lower than Fix Our Roads coalition had envisioned – $6 billion per year.
According to the governor, two major funding sources should be the excise tax on gasoline, which should generate $1 billion every year and a $65-per-car highway annual fee, which should generate $2 billion.
Other sources of funding could be the selling of emission permits ($500 million per year) and savings from restructuring the transportation agency Caltrans ($100 million), which was criticized for being overstaffed
Gov. Brown also proposed a more efficient system of reporting potholes in the state’s highways and roads, more flexible intervention units, and a few tweaks to the California Environmental Quality Act that would set some privileges to companies that deliver infrastructure repairs.
The governor also thought of repaying some older debts acquired through various transportation plans from the “rainy-day” fund that was set in place last year via Proposition 2 as a safety net to prevent damages to the budget brought by boom-and-boost cycles.
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