Oppose SB-1 Transportation Tax Bill:
Too Much Money, Wrong Priorities, You Don’t Get a Vote
Call Senator Mike McGuire’s office to voice your concerns about Senate Bill 1, a poor-policy transportation bill that substantially raises gasoline, diesel, and vehicle registration taxes and fees. This bill goes before the Governance and Finance Committee, in late February or early March 2017, before moving to the Senate floor. As co-author of the bill and Chair of the G&F Committee, McGuire’s support is vital to SB-1’s passage.
The proposed transportation tax that McGuire is co-sponsoring is highly regressive, hurting most the people who can least afford it. Before enacting a poorly-considered tax hike, elected officials should represent our interests by reforming how existing transportation taxes and fees are spent. McGuire is right that California’s decaying road and bridge infrastructure needs fixing. But the problem is not lack of money. It’s the poor fiscal control and misplaced spending priorities.
This bill becomes law if approved by the legislature and governor. Unfortunately, you don’t get a direct vote. The only way you can influence the outcome is by contacting elected officials.
SB-1, and a similar bill in the Assembly (AB-1), will be hard-pressed to pass without the support of our representatives, Senator Mike McGuire and Assemblyman Marc Levine. The vote counts are tight. Tell our legislators: YOU WORK FOR US. Tax-exhausted voters demand fiscal responsibility before paying more.
Take action today. Call McGuire and Levine. Forward this email to others.
|ACTIONS (PHONE CALLS ARE MOST EFFECTIVE):
Call the Office of Senator Mike McGuire
Marin (recommended) – 415-479-6612
Call the Office of Assembly Member Marc Levine.
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DETAILS: If you want to know more, here’s the skinny:
This regressive transportation tax harms working people.
- SB-1 falls heavily on non-urban working people who drive great distances to get to their jobs. Gas tax initially increases $0.12 / gallon; vehicle registration fees initially increase $38/year; and there’s even a new $100/year registration fee add-on—initially—for zero emission vehicles Of course these initial taxes would only be the starting point for new taxes on motorists from SB-1. .
- Inflation escalators built into SB-1 will steadily increase regressive gas tax and registration fees regardless of economic backdrop or people’s ability to pay. Gas taxes will go up even when gasoline itself spikes in price or when unemployment is high. Automatic tax increases are bad tax policy.
- This bill does not sunset. The escalators continue forever.
- SB-1 prohibits local governments from cutting their road budgets. This forces other services to be cut more steeply during a recession.
- SB-1 requires that road projects it funds be “Complete Streets,” adding bicycle and pedestrian accommodations — even if that worsens vehicular congestion, commute times, and pollution. In Marin, vehicle lanes in some high traffic corridors are being removed or narrowed to accommodate Complete Streets.
- SB-1 is heavily backed by the construction industry and trades. They benefit from spending guaranteed to increase forever.
- McGuire is also willing to sponsor legislation to raise the transportation sales tax cap in Marin, another regressive tax that’s bad for low income people and small business. Better spending priorities and fiscal discipline would be the superior approach.
Spending reform is the main fix that’s needed.
- Existing transportation tax revenues haven’t prioritized road maintenance or congestion relief. Truck weight fees have gone to the state’s general fund debt service. Cap and Trade carbon tax revenues fund the high speed rail project and Affordable Housing project grants and loans. The “Complete Streets” mandate means the addition of bike and pedestrian lanes boost the cost of most projects and/or compete for roadway space.
- CalTrans’s legendary squandering of road maintenance money resulted in a Golden Fleece Award. (SB-1’s new oversight agency produces a different waste – a further layer of bureaucracy.) California ranks 45th in the nation in the cost-effectiveness of dollars spent for roadway improvements.
- Commuters are being inundated by multiple new transportation taxes and proposals. Besides SB-1’s gas and registration fee hikes, there’s a proposal to raise Bay Area bridge tolls $1-3; a recent $10 annual vehicle tax hike for unfunded California Highway Patrol pensions; and Transportation Authority of Marin’s effort to increase county-wide sales tax up to 0.5%.
- An expected new Federal Infrastructure program will lessen the need to raise state and local transportation taxes. Let’s see what revenues this brings us before permanently adding $5-6 billion in annual CA taxes from SB-1.
- Unfunded pension liabilities are squeezing basic services throughout California. Without pension reform, services will fall and tax will rise unrelentingly. Elected officials must stop kicking the can down the road.