California drivers who are scheduled to register their cars in July or later are getting a reprieve: The state won’t be sending out their annual bill just yet and will waive any late July payments for at least a month.
But the delay is not a gift; it is part of an effort by lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown to buy more time to negotiate a budget package that would extend higher registration fees.
Under current law, the annual fee is set to drop from 1.15% of a vehicle’s value to 0.65% on July 1. The difference amounts to $5 for every $1,000 a car is worth. Brown, who wants to keep the fee at 1.15% for five more years to help stabilize state finances, signed a law, SB 94, on Wednesday to postpone the registration notices.
The governor doesn’t want drivers to get a smaller bill that could be followed later by a second one asking them to make up the difference.
“It is going to eliminate some potential confusion and duplication,” said Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer.
About 2.4 million vehicles are registered in California each month, said Mike Marando, a spokesman for the Department of Motor Vehicles. Drivers with July registration dates will not receive their renewal notices the usual 60 days in advance, he said, and California Highway Patrol officers will be instructed to ignore late registrations in the month of July.
“We’re holding the notices pending legislative budget action,” Marando said.