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By Tim Hunt

Will legislative leaders do their job?

Uploaded: Aug 12, 2014

With the Legislature now just three weeks away from ending its two-year session, there's one key bill locked in the Senate Rules Committee that will hammer your wallet.
The state's cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gases includes gas to fuel your car. The state air board wants to start applying those fees in January, although Democrat Henry Perea (Fresno) and some colleagues representing areas with lower demographics want to delay it. Whether the Senate rules committee will allow the bill to move to a hearing and/or vote is an open question.
What's not debatable is the cost. The air board indicates that prices, which already are the highest in the continental United States, could increase 15 to 70 cents per gallon. The non-partisan Legislative Analyst put the increase at 13 to 20 cents per gallon and noted it could be higher and could exceed 50 cents in 2020.
For revenue-hungry Democrats, that could mean an extra $2 billion per year to spend on green projects, while motorists see their costs soar.
Many of the programs being driven by the air board and Gov. Jerry Brown are passed along indirectly to citizens—most notably the governor's mandate of 33 percent of electrical power from renewable sources. That means paying PG&E and SoCal Edison more, but most of us do not compare power bills with folks elsewhere paying much less.
Not so for gasoline. Perez is rightfully concerned about the impact on motorists. Imposing this huge fee increase should require a vote of the elected officials in Sacramento, not a regulatory action by bureaucrats appointed by the governor. In the budget deal, the governor got 25 percent of revenues from this additional tax dedicated to the absurdly expensive high-speed rail.
The rules committee is chaired by Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, a key player in that deal who is termed out this year. It's time for the Legislature to do its job instead of allowing regulators to continue to run amuck in California.
There's one more irony in this—this tax will not effect as those affluent folks tooling around in their electric Teslas other owners of electric vehicles. They use the roads and pay nothing to build or maintain through fuel taxes.