MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

California Gov. Jerry Brown Calls Gas Tax Hike Foes 'Freeloaders'

His transportation package would almost double gas taxes while diverting money to public transit and parks.

Gov. Jerry BrownNeon Tommy/FlickrCalifornia's newly passed transportation package will nearly double drivers' gas taxes. Don't like that? Then Gov. Jerry Brown thinks you're a freeloader.

"The freeloaders—I've had enough of them," Brown announced in Orange County earlier this month. "Roads require money to fix." Without an increase in the gas tax, he argued, Californians might have to drive on gravel.

Anger has been building at the governor since he signed the tax hike into law in late April. (The levies are scheduled to come into effect in November.) Brown's state already has the seventh highest gas taxes in the nation, and that money pays for much more than road repair. About $100 million of gas tax revenue—2 percent of the total—is diverted straight into the general fund every year, and another 7 percent goes to public transit.

"California has plenty of money to fix our roads," says state Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), arguing that no increase would be necessary if the state would stop siphoning off revenue earmarked for road maintenance and repair.

Allen points out that about $1 billion a year of transportation revenue is diverted to the general fund. Almost all of that comes from "weight fees" imposed on heavier vehicles, money that is supposed to cover the damage they do to roadways.

Brown's transportation package raises the state's gas excise tax from 18 cents to 30 cents a gallon, and diesel excise taxes from 16 to 36 cents a gallon. A special sales tax on diesel would jump from 1.75 percent to 5.75 percent. Car registration fees would increase by at least $25 and as much as $175, depending on the value of a vehicle.

Where is the money going? At least $100 million a year will be spent trying to increase the number of trips taken by bicycle or on foot through California's Active Transportation Program. (How effective is the program? Since it was created in 2013, the number of Californians commuting by bike increased from 1 percent to just 1.1 percent.) Another $330 million will go to the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program, which funnels taxpayers' money to "transformative" transit projects such as California's high-speed rail system, currently running 50 percent over budget and seven years behind schedule.

Another $300 million is slated for the State Transit Assistance fund, which helps local agencies pay for streetcars and light rail systems. About $54 million would go to the Department of Parks and Recreation, and $17.3 million is headed toward the Department of Food and Agriculture.

These kinds of expenditures make the governor's rhetoric about road repair ring "hollow," Allen argues. "Fully 30 percent of funds will not be spent on roads." And there's no guarantee that still more of the transportation money won't be diverted into the general fund.

Allen wants to put Brown's transportation package on the November 2018 ballot for a yes-or-no vote by the people of California. Twice in this century, Californians have approved ballot initiatives intended to prevent gas tax revenue from being diverted to non-transportation-related uses.

Right now Allen's initiative is being reviewed by the state attorney general, who is expected to approval a title ballot summary by July 8. From there, Allen and his allies will have 150 days to gather the 365,000 signatures required for getting on the ballot.

This means signatures for Allen's initiative will be due in early December, about a month after Brown's gas taxes go into effect. Allen is optimistic about his proposal's chances. "Californians are just beginning to realize the magnitude of the cost they are going to be hit with, and they're outraged," he says.

Photo Credit: Neon Tommy / Flickr

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Christ, what an asshole.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    You beat me to it. That kind of sit almost has me hoping Trump puts those commie shitbirds under martial law.

  • ImanAzol||

    Jerry Brown? He wouldn't hurt a fly.

  • Hugh Akston||

    It's actually kind of a brilliant plan: impose gas taxes and promise to use the revenue to repair the roads. Then let the roads fall into dilapidated shit so people will be fine when you raise gas taxes again, assuming that this time for sure you'll use it to fix the roads. Rinse, repeat, etc.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The politicians in Taxifornia don't even really bother to promise to use the gas taxes for roads anymore.

    Some goes into the general fund and as the article says, parks.

    If a gas tax was only allowed to be used for actual road construction and repair, I could see slaves Californians getting behind that.

    Anyone who has driven on Commifornia, knows that their roads are in horrible shape.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Think how bad they'd be without the gas tax increase.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Think how worse they will be with the gas tax.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    J-Bro only wants the best for California.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    They get Somalia-style roadz, AND they get to pay a hefty tax to "maintain" them. Wow, what a deal!

  • ||

    Then let the roads fall into dilapidated shit so people will be fine when you raise gas taxes again, assuming that this time for sure you'll use it to fix the roads. Rinse, repeat, etc.

    Not-so-coincidental fact: The roads in California are paved with good intentions.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    And stupidity.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    +1 Pacific Coast Highway

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

  • Sevo||

    "...assuming that this time for sure..."

    You know the schools don't have near enough money, right?

  • tommhan||

    Maybe all that illegal immigration has a lot to do with that.

  • CE||

    The real highway using freeloaders are the electric and hybrid car drivers, who don't pay "their fare share" of the gas tax, but use the ROADZ, even getting special access to the fast (HOV) lane.

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    Actually, the bill has a special tax for EV's, something like $100 per year because they don't use enough gas to "Pay Their Fair Share™. That really has the smug, West Coast Elites screaming.

  • NoVaNick||

    They can ride bikes then, until the gov't starts taxing those too (and they will if enough people are ditching cars for them).

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    If it's only $100 that's still not enough.

  • SomeGuy||

    15000 miles 30mpg=500 gallons at 30 cents per gallon thats 150 bucks so close.

    They also pay taxes on electricity too.

    100 bucks is reasonable.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    "The state also would charge $100 per year, starting in 2020, for electric vehicles."

    Electrons are slow, so a 3 year delay seems reasonable. Gas is fast, so it gets cut in immediately.

    As to electricity taxes, those aren't applied to transportation and Google wasn't immediately forthcoming on what they are.

  • Timma||

    EVs are faster than any gas guzzler on the planet, loser. Keep sending the Saudis and OPEC (y)our $$, loser. They appreciate it and use it to spread Sharia.

  • My Dog Bites Better Than Yours||

    Actually, the bill has a special tax for EV's, something like $100 per year because they don't use enough gas to "Pay Their Fair Share™. That really has the smug, West Coast Elites screaming.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    It never fucking ends with these cunts.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I'd like to buy a vowel for the author's last name.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    It's pronounced "Britches."

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    "Britches guy", looks like.

  • Rat on a train||

  • NoVaNick||

    Its obvious who will pay the gas tax-not those who live in the coastal cities, take public transit or drive Teslas, and ensure a permanent dem majority in CA. It will be those icky interior people who drive pickups and voted for Trump.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Car registration fees would increase by at least $25 and as much as $175, depending on the value of a vehicle.

    Ha! Fags. Ours just tripled.

  • albo||

    Screw that. PA has no gas tax. But we do have a millage on gasoline wholesalers, which makes our tax the de facto highest in the country. Although our ex-governor said the wholesalers "didn't have to" pass that tax along to the pump price. Right.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Although our ex-governor said the wholesalers "didn't have to" pass that tax along to the pump price. Right.

    It's stuff like this that makes it hard to decide if politicians are dumb or evil.

  • NoVaNick||

    I would go with evil, since if they were actually that dumb, they would probably be defecating in their pants too.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    How do you know they're not?

  • NoVaNick||

    They are so full of shit, its hard to tell.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    If progressives really cared about the environment, they would offer to have their organs harvested to pay for all this bullsit they want.

  • NoVaNick||

    What part of "essential people" don't you understand, Elias? Progs need every cell in their body to protect the planet and eliminate inequality!

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I should think that heads in jars would suffice. Much better for the environment too.

  • Heddin_South||

    I tried to get my representative to put in a consideration for those with a "work car" or other secondary car, but the bill passed in the middle of the night with little chance for citizen input.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Ballot initiative title:

    The Return All Roads to Gravel Proposition

  • albo||

    I was in Pittsburgh last week, and sat in rush hour traffic while the taxi driver pointed out to me where the city made a four-lane bridge into two lanes and a three-lane street into two lanes so the other lanes could be used by bicycle riders. I saw only five or six bikes in those empty lanes, and at least two were pedicabs. Meanwhile, cars could barely move.

    I HATE city planners and environmental goody-goodies.

  • NoVaNick||

    These are called "smart streets" believe it or not. Gotta love the newspeak...

    Their goal is to eliminate cars from cities-period. And one way to do that is to make driving such a pain in the butt, that people will think "I might as well walk/bike/take the bus."

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I was in Pittsburgh last week, and sat in rush hour traffic while the taxi driver pointed out to me where the city made a four-lane bridge into two lanes and a three-lane street into two lanes so the other lanes could be used by bicycle riders.

    I'm glad to know this is happening elsewhere. I don't like to suffer alone.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Norfolk, VA did that to the route i take to work. The whole route, from my house all the way downtown. Now, while sitting in traffic that didn't used to be there, i get to look at up to two bikes a day.

  • NoVaNick||

    "If you build it, they will come..."

    They have put up lots of bike lanes in Alexandria-there are lots of bike commuters here-and they still insist on riding in the middle of the street.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Mind you, I think you have a point, HOWEVER, as somebody who one used a bike as my major form of transport for five years, I can assure you there s an explanation;

    The government stooges who make bike lanes are no smarter than government stooges anywhere else. Consequently they tend to leave storm drains with potentially wheel-catching grates in new bike lanes. And a bike rider only has to get caught by one of those to develop a permanent and severe aversion.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The grates really bugged me when I bike commuted -- they line them up so the grates are longways fore-and-aft, perfect for catching tires. If they turned them 90 degrees, they'd be no big deal, and although still slippery when wet, perhaps too short to be a real danger.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    It's all Agenda 21. Step one is artificially restrict most of all the available land, persecute and harass rural dwellers, and force everyone into the cities. Then the next step is to take their cars away and force them to walk and ride a bike or thus bus.

    It's how you turn people into dependent serfs and control their lives.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    They're doing this shit where I live too. I hope they don't remain unmurdered for too long.

  • NoVaNick||

    The urbanization trend has peaked now that Millennials are opting to move to the burbs and start families. They don't want to live in shoeboxes with no yard and send their kids to shitty schools. Agenda 21 will go back to being a waste of taxpayer money for grant junkies.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Which is exactly what they're doing. The local municipality is getting $3.8 million in federal funds to fuck up the nearby arterial I use to commute to I-90. They somehow think that cutting down to one lane of thru traffic each way to make room for for bike lanes no one uses will not impede traffic.

    My solution is somewhat different. I wish to hang the city council from the top story of City Hall, all in a row. To be fair, They should be given their choice of bowels in, or bowels out before they get tossed out the window.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I guess I'm not sure why California doesn't just nationalize the oil companies and reap 100% of the profits. There are examples of this all over.

  • timbo||

    Time tested and without problems later.

  • Len Bias||

    I also heard there are no sunsets on these gas taxes. They claim it is to pay for damage caused by the latest storms, but it's obviously bullshit.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Obviously Bullshit was Jerry Brown's nickname in military school.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Captain Obviously Bullshit?

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    KKKalifornia Uber Alles
    Obligatory.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Former commenter american socialist would no doubt be in here voicing unconditional defense of his state's continued plunge toward total bankruptcy, but a couple months back he fell into a pothole and died.

  • ||

    I'd say which one, but nobody had both the zeal for polishing the turd that is California's economy like *the original* amsoc. It could crash and burn in epic levels of bankruptcy and he'd still be lauding the brilliance it took to generate a disaster of that size and scope. Any States or national economies that it drug down with it would just be posers or wannabes.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Speaking of freeloaders...Taxifornia is full of them.

  • Rebel Scum||

    His transportation package would almost double gas taxes while diverting money to public transit and parks.

    So he wants to increase taxes that are ostensibly to build and maintain roads and then not use it for that? Seems legit...

  • ||

    "The freeloaders—I've had enough of them," Brown announced in Orange County earlier this month. "Roads require money to fix."

    Roads need to be fixed in order to require money.

  • blackjack||

    He means trains. He wants to mainline trains. That's his fix and it requires money.

  • Hunthjof||

    Oh Trains is just the tip of the ice berg. I would be willing to give 2-1 odds that some how some of this money gets siphoned to CALPERS to prop up their pension system that is on the verge of total collapse.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    If it's in the general fund, it's propping up CALPERS

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Typical Political Class vermin; "Peasants! How DARE you question my glorious wisdom!"

    Politician. Guillotine. Some disassembly required.

  • LarryA||

    Twice in this century, Californians have approved ballot initiatives intended to prevent gas tax revenue from being diverted to non-transportation-related uses.

    Any bets on this one? "Third time's the charm." v. "Three strikes and you're out."

  • DrZ||

    We have to have this tax increase if we are ever going to get the choo choo train built.

    Just think, hundreds of people will use it every year and marvel that anything like this could have ever been built.

  • CATT||

    Brown is such a dickless wonder. If ever there was a freeloader it would be most politicians, especially those that are career politicians. Brown needs shut his incredibly stupid, hypocritical mouth, because every time he opens it, he proves what an insufferable idiot he is. And, that goes for his clown wife/husband. What a couple of gross twits.

  • georgekaplan||

    Freeloader? I've been working my a** off for 40 years and paying my taxes. Nobody drives me around because I'm a high-level bureaucrat. I don't get to divert state workers from their jobs and send them to my ranch! You have a lot of nerve calling hard-working Californians freeloaders you jackass.

  • American Veteran Patroit||

    LALA Lands love affair with moonbeam, who has achieved one goal, a ton of retirement checks for screwing the state while killing a once very vibrant state. Since the late 70's and early 80's, the number one state has become the worse state in the USA. Liberal stupidity and reelection of seriously flawed dolts have fully achieved the demise sooner rather than later. Uncontrolled union influences, uncontrolled mega-projects with a bottomless budget robbed from all sections of the state treasury, and with only a very few exceptions zero leadership. NP, MW, DF, BB, JS, JB, along with all dems past & present who got elected the same way obozo did, flowery language with zero substance on any part of their body.

  • Budbug||

    Wow. And all this time I thought it was the government tax-and-spend parasites that were the freeloaders.

  • Tionico||

    Well I guess I'll have to build and fit an YUGE auxiliary fuel tank into my van, enough to get me clear through that stinking hole of a state. Thirty Six Cents the Gallon tax on diesel? Are they NUTS? And their roads are the worst of any state I've driven in these past ten years, with the exceptions of parts of Atlanta, Georgiam Portland, Oregon, and Seattle Washington (the WORST..... thanks, Mayor Mc Schwinn..... the bike guy's roads are the worst anywhere) but those not states, and those cities squander money on other stuff in preference to fixing their roads.
    In California nearly everywhere I drive or ride my bike, the roads are wretched.
    This is a thinly veiled ripoff to finance his pet railroad project that no one wants, and that I'll bet he's got a stake in financially.

  • ||

    Author forgot to mention: The Gazelle Strategy to Repeal the Car Tax: Recalls!
    http://kogo.iheart.com/onair/t.....-15726882/

  • patskelley||

    http://aesopfables.com/cgi/aes.....tenbyaDog;
    The Man Bitten by a Dog

    A MAN who had been bitten by a Dog went about in quest of someone who might heal him. A friend, meeting him and learning what he wanted, said, "If you would be cured, take a piece of bread, and dip it in the blood from your wound, and go and give it to the Dog that bit you."
    The Man who had been bitten laughed at this advice and said, "Why? If I should do so, it would be as if I
    should beg every Dog in the town to bite me."

    Moral: Benefits bestowed upon the evil-disposed increase their means of injuring you.

    Seemed appropriate - stop feeding that damn dog ;-)

  • ||

    Is there no bigger freeloader than the state of California? It's the cauldron calling the thimble fat.

  • Timma||

    California gives way more to the federal government than it receives, but good try thanks for playing, loser.

  • Longtobefree||

    Dare we say the tax was railroaded through?

  • tommhan||

    Glad I don't live in that high tax state.

  • Timma||

    And we are too.

  • Timma||

    So taxes, government bad,
    Corporate, private profit good?

    Got it.

  • Curt2004||

    One requires men with guns, the other not so much... got it?

  • CZmacure||

    If progressives really cared about the environment, they would offer to have their organs harvested to pay for all this bullsit they want.

    My recent post: Covert Video Press 3.0 Review

  • Richard Stallman||

    Raising taxes on gasoline is the way to let the market convince people
    to drive less (and slow the relentless march to global heating disaster).

  • Longtobefree||

    Taxes are not part of the market.
    Taxes are used to distort the market so progressives can whine and cry that the market is not working and we need more taxes and more regulations.
    I propose a $150,000 'fee' on each utterance of the phrase 'climate change' to pay for the costs of addressing the madness known this week as 'climate change'.

  • Longtobefree||

    That is a very old way of freelancing, and illegal in New York. Kelly should get a real job. Or become a real person, either one.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online