truckers who were faced with significant increases in the vehicle
license fees later this year may get some relief from California’s
current political turmoil.
Los Angeles Times reported Aug. 12 that Democrats were floating
a plan that would roll back an automatic increase in the fees now
set for October.
fee is based on a percentage of a truck’s value. On a $100,000 rig,
the fee last year would be $650. After Oct. 1, the fee on that hypothetical
truck will rise to its former level, roughly $2,000.
to a letter sent by Ken Reed, chief of the state’s IRP office, the
Vehicle License Fee dropped in 1998 after the General Assembly passed
a law that cut the payments made by vehicle owners subject to California
registration. However, the same bill, Reed wrote, required the fee
to return to its previous, higher level when California’s general
fund did not have enough money to pay for the “offset,” or reduction.
is in the midst of a significant budget crisis, facing a state deficit
of up to $38 billion for the year. State officials have not yet
been able to reach an agreement on the budget, despite the fact
that it was due eight days ago. Major cuts are expected in many
programs, and the 1998 law, requiring the fees to go up, has been
letter, dated June 23 and sent to Robert Pitcher, president of the
International Registration Plan Inc. Even out-of-state truckers
will pay a percentage of the fee, based on the percentage of their
total miles that they run in California.
Vehicle License Fee increase, which also applies to passenger cars,
has been very unpopular in the state, The Times reported, and the
Democratic plan would replace the lost revenue with more politically
palatable taxes, such as cigarette taxes and increase income taxes
on wealthy citizens. Republicans are criticizing the Democrats’
plan to repeal the increase as a ploy to boost Gov. Gray Davis,
who is currently facing a GOP-backed recall effort.
– both those based in California and those who only travel through
it – already faced higher fees because of another state action in
June. State officials at that time proposed a bill that would increase
the IRP weight-based fees by 42 percent.
Gore, a spokeswoman for the Department of Finance, told Land
Line because of a new law in the year 2000, California changed
from calculating its weight-based IRP fees based on unladen weight
to using laden weight. That action put it in compliance with how
most member states in the International Registration Plan operate.
The International Registration Plan is an interstate compact that
regulates reciprocal registration fees paid by truckers.
2000 bill in California was supposed to be “revenue neutral,” meaning
it was supposed to neither add nor subtract from the state’s revenue.
But instead, the change left the state highway fund short – some
media reports say as much as $160 million short. The Sacramento
Bee reported that the 2000 bill called for an adjustment in
the fee schedule if the new laden weight-based structure didn’t
produce the same amount of revenue as the old system.
officials calculated an increase of 42 percent would be necessary
to make up the difference – the exact amount of fee increase being
said the proposal, now part of Assembly Bill 1767, came out of a
conference committee that was working out differences between the
Assembly and Senate version of the state budget.
Business Services unit at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers
Association said the basic fee is now $1,700 on the largest tractor-trailers.
According to Bill Branch, a spokesman for the California DMV, under
AB1767 the 42 percent increase would bring that to $2,420.
AB1767 passes, then a California trucker who owns a rig valued at
$100,000 and who runs 100 percent of his or her miles in the state
could face an increase in total state fees of roughly $2,000.
bill has already passed the Assembly and is awaiting a final vote
before the Senate.
Mark H. Reddig, associate editor
Reddig can be reached at email@example.com.