Listen to the podcast of this discussion.
California's new gas tax goes into effect November 1. That means most drivers will see the price of gas go up by 12 cents per gallon, diesel will increase 20 cents a gallon. Starting January 1, you'll be charged a new annual vehicle fee ranging from $25 to $175, depending on the value of your car. Even electric cars, which don't use gas, will will pay a $100 annual fee (starting in 2020).
The gas tax increase ushers in a 10-year program to raise more than $52 billion for transportation projects, like repairing roads and improving traffic congestion across the state. Will that money be spent wisely?
Governor Jerry Brown fought hard to get the gas tax (officially known as Senate Bill 1) passed last April, saying "real money" is needed to fix California's transportation systems, which have gone unrepaired and unexpanded for decades. And a variety of business groups, which typically loathe tax increases, supported this one.
But critics are skeptical that the gas tax is the best way to handle road repairs. Republican lawmakers voted against SB1, saying taxpayers are already paying plenty for them, money is available from the state's general fund, and Brown should scrap his multibillion-dollar bullet train project to pay for road repairs. They also stated that SB1 passed with no votes to spare, only after Brown and Capitol leaders agreed to provide nearly $1 billion in side deals for the districts of on-the-fence legislators who agreed afterwards to vote yes.
Now the state's Republicans are actively working to repeal the gas tax. There are two separate efforts to put repeal-the-gas-tax measures on the November 2018 ballot. And they say that because their polling on the gas tax shows it to be extremely unpopular, there's an excellent chance SB1 will be repealed a year from now.
So even though the gas tax kicks in on November 1, the gas tax war is just beginning.
Join us for our next "Policy and a Pint" as we discuss the gas tax and what it consists of, where the money goes, why it's a good thing, why it's a bad thing and -- most importantly -- how it affects you as a California driver, taxpayer and maybe even as a voter in November.
We're holding it at Station 1, the second floor of the historic riverfront firehouse right across the river from the Capitol next to the I Street Bridge in West Sacramento (Burgers and Brew is on the first floor). Station 1 is a lovely space, with a full bar -- which is very important because we'll all probably need a stiff drink while learning about the gas tax and what's expected to happen with it over the next 12 months.
* Brian Annis, Undersecretary of the California State Transportation Agency
* Katy Grimes, president of the Sacramento Taxpayers Association
* Michael Quigley, executive director of the California Jobs Alliance
* O to 7 minutes - Intro to California Groundbreakers, and why we're talking about the Gas Tax
* 7 min - Panelists introduce themselves, and share their favorite road trips
* 11:45 min - The Legislature passed Senate Bill 1, a.k.a. the Gas Tax, in April - what it is, what's designed to do, and what we're paying more for
* 18:30 min - Why most business and trade groups, which typically hate new taxes, are supporting the Gas Tax
* 23:35 min - Reasons why the Gas Tax shouldn't have passed, and alternatives for funding transportation repairs
* 30:55 min - What is Caltrans specifically going to spend Gas Tax money on, and how will it ensure work is done on time and on schedule?
* 36: 25 min - Other U.S. states that are good models of transportation spending and investing
* 43:20 - How the Gas Tax will affect cycling and public transit projects
* 47:10 min - Predicting the future of transportation in California - what should it look like? And where does high-speed rail fit into that?
* 53:35 min - The earmarks and deals that had to be done to get Senate Bill 1 passed - will they help or hinder California as a whole?
* 57:10 min - How will Senate Bill 1 expand transit and road capacity?
* 1 hour, 2 min - If the Gas Tax isn't there to pay for our roads and transit, then who's supposed to pay for it?
* 1 hr, 6:30 min - What's being done to make Caltrans and transportation projects more efficient?
* 1 hr, 11:15 min - Republicans' efforts are planning to put a repeal of the Gas Tax on the Election 2018 ballot
* 1 hr, 13:10 min - If there is a "repeal the Gas Tax" initiative on the ballot next year, what should we consider as voters when deciding whether it stays or goes?