California Roads Bill Would Limit Truck Pollution Mandates

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The state Senate voted 27-11 and the state Assembly voted 54-26 - the bare minimum two-thirds margins required for a tax increase.

The vote came after Gov. Jerry Brown and other Democrats who control the Legislature to support the truckers' language.

California legislators approved a massive $52 billion infrastructure plan on Thursday meant to address a massive backlog of fix and maintenance projects, while creating thousands of new jobs.

"Democrats want us to pick up the tab for their decades of neglect", state party chairman Jim Brulte said in a statement. "For me, this is a wise plan that's a modest plan". Republicans railed against the bill, saying the state needs to prioritize transportation projects within the current budget instead of asking people for more money.

"This institution is sick", said Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City. The last thing individuals, families, and employers across California need is to have lawmakers in Sacramento pile on with further tax hikes at the state level, especially considering they live in what is already one of the most heavily-taxed jurisdictions in the world.

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"I do believe there is a silent Californian out there", he said.

Gov. Brown wants the tax increase, now called Senate Bill 1, to be passed this week.

• The base excise tax on gasoline goes by 12 cents per gallon to 30 cents.

SB 132 is expected to be heard in the state Senate again after the state Legislature returns from Spring Recess April 17.

Commercial truck emissions are one of the largest sources of pollution in areas with the dirtiest air, but the giveaway to truckers would undermine future mandates to deal with them, said Adrian Martinez, an attorney for Earthjustice. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office "recommends that the Legislature reduce the budget and staffing levels of the program starting with the 2014-15 budget, improve its staffing projects and data quality, and provide the California Transportation Commission with specific oversight and project approval functions that have limited external oversight". With no Republican support, every single Democrat in the State Senate has to vote for it. While almost everyone acknowledges both the problem and the need, many legislators have changes they would like to make. Apparently Dems are ok w/ increasing gas taxes by 70% on Californians who are already struggling to make ends meet. "In addition, this will be transformative for commerce and commuter travel throughout the Central Valley". In fact, Republican legislators have proposed a bill that would raise the money without raising taxes. Richard Roth of Riverside and Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes of Corona, both Democrats.

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"The Speaker of the House of Representatives is ideologically opposed to public investment in public infrastructure", says Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Several Republicans repeated complaints that Democrats have squandered transportation funding over the years, deferring necessary maintenance and leading to the decline of the state's infrastructure.

"For our community. we've got some really good stuff here", Gray said. Taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel built the interstate highway system and California's state and local transportation networks.

Lobbyists for environmental organizations, alarmed by the broad wording of what they call the "dirty truck amendment", are invoking an environmental justice argument meant to make liberal Democrats squirm, noting that the poorest people who live along freeways would be most directly affected.

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