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California

New road-repair plan from Gov. Jerry Brown includes higher gas taxes, vehicle fees

Jerry Brown, Toni Atkins

Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) have been working on a new plan for funding road repairs. A proposal was presented to Republican leaders on Thursday.

(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown has ramped up his efforts to reach a deal on funding road repairs, dispatching a top administration official to present a new proposal to Republican leaders on Thursday morning.

The proposal would provide $3.6 billion annually for transportation and includes a new $65 fee for vehicle owners, an 11-cent increase in the diesel tax and a 6-cent hike to the gas tax.

Republican support is crucial because raising revenue requires a two-thirds vote, something Democrats can’t muster on their own. So far, they’ve resisted efforts to generate more funding with taxes or fees.

Details of Brown’s proposal, which would split the money between state and local governments, were first reported by the San Jose Mercury News.

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Some funding for roads also would come from the cap-and-trade program, which charges fees to polluters. The money is required to be spent on programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and Republicans have argued that fixing roads would reduce travel times, leading to less pollution.

Other Republican ideas were included in the proposal, such as pursuing public-private partnerships and streamlining environmental reviews for new projects.

“There’s a lot of positive things that they took directly from our plan,” said Amanda Fulkerson, a spokeswoman for Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen.

But Fulkerson said the caucus wasn’t prepared to budge on taxes and fees.

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“We don’t think Californians should be asked to fork over cash,” she said. “The caucus is not going to be supporting the new sources of revenue.”

Brown has been seeking a plan for funding road repairs since early this year. When the issue was not included in the state budget finalized in June, he called a special legislative session to focus lawmakers’ attention on the issue.

The new proposal presented on Thursday would direct $400 million of the funding for local governments toward transit programs like buses and trains.

“It’s a great deal for the citizens of California,” said Joshua Shaw, executive director of the California Transit Assn. “This is a framework that makes sense.”

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.

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