April 7 California lawmakers on Thursday
approved legislation to increase gasoline taxes and other
transportation-related fees for the first time in decades, to
fund an ambitious $52 billion plan to repair the state's sagging
The legislation heads to the desk of Democratic Governor
Jerry Brown, who urged its support after the Democratic-led
state legislature passed it on Thursday with a 27-11 vote in the
Senate and then a 54-26 vote hours later in the Assembly.
"The Democratic Party is the party of doing things, and
tonight we did something to fix the roads in California," Brown
said during a news conference after the vote. "We got to fix
them. It takes real money."
The measure will increase the excise tax on gasoline by 12
cents per gallon from the current $0.28 and on diesel fuel by 20
cents per gallon, among other fees, over 10 years. The money
will be used for repairs to roads and bridges as well as for
Owners of electric vehicles, who do not use gasoline and
would not pay the gas tax, would have to pay a $100 fee to help
repair roads. The fees and taxes should raise about $5.2 billion
The average motorist in California will see costs increase
by about $10 a month, according to Democrats, the Sacramento Bee
Republicans condemned the plan, saying the state's
transportation taxes and fees were already among the highest in
"Democrats want us to pick up the tab for their decades of
neglect," state party chairman Jim Brulte said in a statement.
"The liberal Democrat elites are out of touch and Californians
should not be used as a piggy bank for the majority party's
California's transportation systems have gone unrepaired and
unexpanded for decades, as budget constraints and politics have
stymied plans by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Brown, a fiscal moderate credited with bringing the state
back from a $27 billion budget gap, has refused to sign on to
plans that involve borrowing money, and Republicans and some
moderate Democrats have resisted raising gasoline taxes.
But the same Democratic wave that led California to go
two-for-one in favor of former presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton last November gave the party a two-thirds majority in
both houses of the legislature, enough to pass new taxes without
The deal won support of construction companies and labor
unions, and Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday put up a unified
front on what had been the divisive issue of raising taxes.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, editing by Larry