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Atkins Wants New Vehicle Fee For Transportation Projects

Andrew Nixon
Capital Public Radio

The speaker of the California Assembly wants the state to put an extra two billion dollars a year towards transportation projects. To pay for it, she wants to charge a new fee on every vehicle in the state.

Arnold Schwarzenegger rode voters’ anger over higher vehicle license fees to the governorship in the 2003 recall election.

Schwarzenegger in 2003: “I will immediately destroy the car tax!”

Twelve years later, Democratic Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins is proposing a fee of a dollar a week per vehicle, 52 dollars a year, to help pay for road and highway projects. That’s on top of what Californians already pay in gas taxes. But Atkins says electric and fuel-efficient vehicles are reducing gas tax revenue.

Atkins: “Yes, people are already paying for road maintenance. But what they’re paying in terms of the gas tax is not keeping up with the deferred maintenance or ongoing future maintenance of roads.”

The speaker’s proposal would require Republican votes to reach the necessary two-thirds legislative supermajority. Assembly Republicans say they support more money for transportation projects – but not by raising it this way.

In a statement, Governor Jerry Brown praised the speaker for tackling the issue head-on and said he looks forward to working with lawmakers from both parties to address California’s transportation needs.