By JP Crumrine
It only took one week, after announcing an agreement to finance major repair and maintenance of California’s road and highway systems, for the Legislature to enact Senate Bill 1 on Thursday night.
Over the next 10 years, SB 1 will generate annually about $5.2 billion in new revenue. All these funds will be for road and highway-construction maintenance.
The sources of the new funds will be a combination of a 12-cent gasoline tax increase, a 20-cent increase in diesel excise tax, a 5.75-percent increase of the diesel sales taxes, a fee on a car’s valuation and a $100 fee for zero-emission cars.
The gasoline tax will be effective Nov. 1, 2017. The zero-emission vehicle fee will start July 1, 2020.
These revenue increases required at least a two-thirds majority of both houses for the bill to pass. The Senate voted 27-11, and the Assembly passed the bill 54-26.
The new revenue measures are estimated to cost the average vehicle owner about $10 a month.
While Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders were happy with the results, some who opposed the new taxes expressed disappointment with additional taxes. One of these was local Sen. Jeff Stone.
“Senate Bill 1 hurts the working poor and middle class families, the very people Democrats in the Legislature always say they are trying to protect,” he said in a press release after the vote. “Yes, our roads are falling apart. Yes, our streets need repair.
If this Legislature simply had the courage to use money that we collect from our taxpayers to pay for the programs we promised the people that money would be spent on, we wouldn’t be in this position.”
Riverside County will be a beneficiary of the new road funds. Sen. Richard Roth, a Riverside Democrat, was unsure how he would vote on SB 1. But after several meetings with the governor and the bill’s sponsors, Roth eventually supported the bill.
After its passage, he and Assembly member Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), released the following statement, ““For too long, Sacramento has failed to provide Inland Southern California with the resources we deserve. Though this was a difficult vote, the cost of our region not getting its fair share is too high. That is why we went to the table to ensure Inland Southern California’s needs are represented with the vigor and dedication they deserve.”
The negotiations resulted in an agreement of funding for the following Riverside County highway projects:
• Highway 91/Interstate 15 North Connector: $180 million
• I-15/Limonite Interchange: $48 million
• McKinley Grade Separation: $84.45 million
Also, the governor will support legislation to reimburse the cities of Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Menifee and Wildomar for the vehicle license fee funding, which has been denied them for several years.