Governor vetoes California bills that would have raised vehicle fees

| 9/28/2006

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a handful of bills that sought to generate revenue for the state by boosting certain fees on vehicles.

One of the bills turned back by the governor – AB2681 –would have allowed county boards of supervisors to increase the annual registration surcharge from $1 to $2. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, the bill would have used additional revenue to fund abandoned vehicle abatement programs.

Schwarzenegger also vetoed a nearly identical bill – SB1225 – by Sen. Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata.

The governor said in most cases the decisions to raise fees should be made by voters, not elected officials.

“Many of these proposals have been well-intentioned, with proposed fees related to the impact motorists have on roads and the environment,” Schwarzenegger wrote in his veto message on AB2681. “However, I consistently held that fees … should be approved by the voters.”

Nevertheless, the governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed voters to make the final decision on fee increases.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, the bill – AB799 – would have authorized San Francisco to put a measure on the ballot to impose a local vehicle license fee.

Revenue generated from the fee would have been about $75 million annually, according to an analysis on the bill.

Schwarzenegger said in his veto message on the bill that one of the reasons he rejected the bill was because revenues “would not be directed to projects related to vehicles but used to bolster the city’s general fund.”

Another bill – AB2444 – to increase fees that was vetoed would have allowed San Francisco Bay Area counties to impose annual vehicle registration fees.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Johan Klehs, D-San Leandro, the bill called for surcharges up to $5 to fund congestion relief and environmental projects.

One other bill that met its demise on the governor’s desk would have allowed the California Department of Motor Vehicles to collect fees up to $6 from vehicle registrations and renewals in coastal and Bay Area counties. Sponsored by Pavley, the bill – AB2838 – called for the revenue to be used for congestion relief.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor