Writing in 2007, Los Angeles Times editorial writer Robert Greene stated, “The defining issue of the 2003 recall was Gov. Gray Davis’ tripling of the car tax, more officially known as the vehicle license fee. The defining issue of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s successful campaign to unseat Davis was his promised rollback of the said car tax.” Greene went on to document the relationship of the car tax, the gas tax and the diversion of this revenue from transportation infrastructure to shore up a chronically unbalanced state budget. The contortions and machinations by state officials behind this diversion of funds was difficult to follow. What was not difficult to follow, however, was the public’s disdain for the car tax, a fact to which former Gov. Davis will attest.
The transportation tax package just approved by the California Legislature — greased with ample amounts of pork — is a lot more than just an increase in the car registration tax. It also imposes a 12-cents-per-gallon gas tax, and will cost the average California family of four over $250 annually. If state politicians wanted to inflame California taxpayers, they couldn’t have picked a better way to do it. What’s next? Standing in Capitol Park to poke hornets’ nests?
As discussed in this column last week, the current proposal, calculated to cost California drivers $52 billion over the next 10 years, is bad for innumerable policy reasons. But it’s also bad politics.
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