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Gas tax bill passes through State Legislature

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State Sen. Anthony Canella R-Ceres smiles as he talks with Sen. Cathleen Galgiani D-Stockton as lawmakers debate a transportation bill that would increase the state's gas and vehicle taxes $5 billion-a-year to pay for

Assembly Democrats almost did not have enough votes to approve the bill until a deal was struck with two Riverside Democrats, Sen. A tense and quietly chaotic scene ensued, with lawmakers encircling their undecided colleagues or pacing nervously, watching the vote tally.

Tension among Democrats spiked when Assemblyman Rudy Salas of Bakersfield bucked his caucus to vote against the plan. The bill passed the Senate with the minimum votes needed 27-11. Then the Democrat-controlled legislature used accounting schemes to pay off bonds instead of build up our highways.

To pass the bill, the governor tried to garner support from the trucking industry because the diesel tax will mostly impact transportation companies. Jerry Brown (D) before going into effect. "The Democratic Party is the party of doing things".

A group of business officials and labor unions applauded the effort: "We are fully committed to supporting the road fix plan and intend to get it and the companion constitutional protection through the Legislature by April 6", said Michael Quigley, of the California Alliance for Jobs, in a statement. The governor said he was "very proud" of the senator. Another $100 million is earmarked for a parkway project at University of California, Merced.

Over the last couple days, SB 132, a separate budget bill in the state Senate, was amended to include about $927 million in transportation projects.

In an interview after the Senate vote, Cannella said he was at the governor's mansion on the eve of the vote, having "my arm being twisted". On Monday, the measure will be returned to the state Senate, where it will be finalized before being sent Brown for his signature. The measure provides $500 million in funding to Cannella's district. He also had been on the fence.

Without Glazer's support, Brown needed a Republican.

The bill, SB1, is the first major legislation that must comply with an initiative approved past year by voters that requires lawmakers to publish legislation for three days before voting on it. "President Reagan pushed for a hike in the federal gas tax and Gov. Deukmejian took similar action on the state level in 1990".

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The scrounging for votes was complicated by the sudden absence of Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, a Democrat, who was hospitalized late afternoon. Jerry Brown and Democrat lawmakers in Sacramento unveiled a "landmark" solution for funding critical transportation infrastructure projects.

And the new bill, he said, was rushed to the Assembly floor without receiving a single committee vote in that house. - $7.3 billion by raising the current 16-cent-a-gallon diesel excise tax by 20 cents - a 125 percent increase starting November 1. The tax-hike plan is more likely than ever given increased Democratic numbers in the Capitol.

The initial vote in the state Senate did not happen until after 5:30 p.m. Thursday. All told, California motorists, who already pay among the highest gas taxes in the country, will now have to pay even more. Almost half of all drivers, whose cars are worth under $5,000, would pay a $25 fee each year, while those with vehicles valued between $5,000 and $25,000 - about 40 percent of drivers in the state - would pay $50. "Transportation is a basic need to live and work and raise a family". From fixing potholes along the 10 and 60 freeways to improving city streets in disarray, SB 1 is a win for our community.

"Senator Cannella and I stood together and made it known we would not support a transportation plan that failed to invest in our underserved region". The money is supposed to be used to fix the states highways. Now the legislature diverts $1 billion a year from weight fees to the general state budget. These fees and taxes would increase every year with inflation.

State lawmakers narrowly passed a 12-cent gas tax increase last night, but many California residents are wondering how soon they will actually start seeing improvements on our local roads.

Runner is a former state lawmaker who sits on the state's Board of Equalization.

"This is a plan that gets the road repairs started right away", Beall said.

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