California bill would triple diesel sales tax

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 8/24/2015

A California bill to increase the state’s diesel sales tax by 300 percent has drawn the ire of truckers.

Assemblymen David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, and Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, are behind an effort to triple the diesel sales tax from 1.75 percent to 5.25 percent. The estimated $288 million each year in new revenue would be used to help maintain transit systems throughout the state.

The San Francisco Bay Area would get an estimated $110 million annually.

The legislation is part of a special session in Sacramento to discuss plans to come up with more money for freeways, roads and bridges. Legislators have until mid-September to reach agreement on a plan, or plans, to address some of the $59 billion in highway needs over the next decade.

Allen and other lawmakers are calling for transit to get a piece of the pie under any potential transportation funding plan approved during the special session.

“California needs a balanced approach to our transportation infrastructure,” Allen said in prepared remarks. “We can repair our existing freeways and bridges while investing in smart mass transit that will relieve our congested freeways.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to the push to tap truckers to subsidize transit work. The national trade association has about 5,200 members residing in California and thousands more that travel the state’s roadways.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs, said the Association’s members contribute a significant percentage of their hard-earned income to support federal, state, and local investments in transportation infrastructure.

“While we do not dispute California’s underlying transportation needs, increasing the already enormous burden on small-business truckers – and other diesel users – to further finance public transit projects is bad policy, perpetually unsustainable, and will do absolutely nothing to address the state’s road and bridge needs,” Matousek said.

OOIDA has communicated the concerns of its members to legislative leaders in the state House and Senate.

The Assembly version is ABX1 8. The Senate version is SBX1 7.

The bills await consideration in committee.

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