Caltrans will closed a section of the HOV the San Gabriel Valley to maintaine and upgrade sections of the bridges on east- and westbound I-10 between Valley Boulevard and Peck Road. Photo courtesy of Caltrans
Photo courtesy of Caltrans

Gov. Jerry Brown will join state and local representatives in Riverside Tuesday to make his case for hiking gasoline taxes to pay for road repairs.

Brown is scheduled to join Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-South Gate, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Moreno Valley, Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington and others at North Park to rally support for the Road Repair & Accountability Act of 2017.

The bill, which could be voted on as early as Thursday, seeks a 20-cent per gallon increase in diesel taxes, a 12-cent per gallon hike in gas taxes and a 5.75 percent increase in diesel sales taxes, as well as higher vehicle license fees — up an average $38 per vehicle.

The hikes would generate an estimated $5.2 billion in annual revenue, according to the governor’s office.

Senate Bill 1 requires a two-thirds vote to pass the Legislature, and with Republican lawmakers throughout the state aligned against the measure, a few Democratic votes against it could scotch its chances of reaching the governor’s desk.

Among Inland Empire lawmakers, Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, has expressed opposition, along with Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Palm Desert, Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, and Assemblyman Chad Mayes, R-Beaumont.

Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Indio, and Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Corona, will join Medina in supporting the proposal.

The California Trucking Association issued a statement in support of the bill, hailing it as an “infrastructure package that will fix our roads, make vital upgrades to our freight system and protect the $200 million a year truckers invest in the cleanest, most efficient equipment available.”

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has railed against the gas tax package, saying it is the product of tax-and-spend “Sacramento politicians and special interests.”

“The state collects one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, but do they spend it all on roads and highways? No,” HJTA Director Jon Coupal said Sunday. “Much of the money we pay in car taxes, truck fees and gas taxes is diverted. So, a gas and car tax increase means we would be paying twice for the same service.”

Last week, in announcing the push to pass SB 1, Brown pointed out that “California has a massive backlog of broken infrastructure that has been neglected far too long.”

“Fixing the roads will not get cheaper by waiting, or ignoring the problem,” he said. “This is a smart plan that will improve the quality of life in California.”

The package touts “strict new accountability provisions” to ensure funds would be earmarked specifically for transportation projects, including highway and bridge repairs, enlargement of congested travel corridors and improved inter-city transit systems.

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.

“The Democrat majority has failed year after year to fix our roads, and now they are expecting the people of California to bail them out,” Melendez said.

–City News Service

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