State Budget Deal: Most Californians Will Get Stimulus Payments

Most Californians would receive stimulus payments ranging from $200 to $350 per person under a budget deal that Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislative leaders announced Sunday night.

Tax refunds under the agreement’s $17 billion “inflation relief package” would provide $350 to individuals making less than $75,000 per year. Couples making less than $150,000 who file their taxes together would receive $700. If families in those categories have at least one dependent, the deal calls for them to also receive another $350. That means families could receive up to $1,050.

The agreement also would provide checks, although in smaller amounts, to many people who make more money. The smallest payments are designated for individuals making up to $250,000, who would get $200. Couples filing jointly who make less than $500,000 will receive $400, plus an additional $200 for dependents.

Under the plan, the state would send people the money through direct deposits and debit cards beginning in October. The state’s Franchise Tax Board estimates all the money would be sent out by early next year, said H.D. Palmer, spokesperson for the state’s Department of Finance.

The state budget deal must be passed by the Legislature and signed by Newsom to become law, but a statement from legislative leaders, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, saying they’ve signed on to the deal indicates that will happen.

In addition to the tax refunds, the budget agreement would also suspend the 23-cent state sales tax on diesel for a year starting Oct. 1, Palmer said. Under the agreement, the state would provide local governments the revenue that would have come from the diesel tax, to avoid stalling local transportation projects.

The agreement also includes money to help Californians pay their rent and utility bills, the governor and legislative leaders said. It also adds $47 billion in infrastructure spending and $200 million for reproductive health care in the wake of the Supreme Court decision this past week overturning Roe v. Wade.

“In the face of growing economic uncertainty, this budget invests in California’s values while further filling the state’s budget reserves,” Newsom, Atkins and Rendon said in a written statement.

The announcement of the deal indicates Newsom’s proposal to send $400 payments to vehicle owners is dead. Newsom had initially made the proposal to provide targeted relief from high gas prices that his administration said could be sent out to Californians more quickly than payments to tax filers. But he failed to get lawmakers to sign onto the idea.

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

California Legislators Want to Help You Buy A House With Down Payment, ‘Shared Equity’

First-time buyers often rely on family gifts to afford the down payments on their homes. Now California Legislators want the government to fill the role of generous relative.

Lawmakers are proposing creating a billion-dollar fund in this year’s state budget that would provide California’s first-time buyers either all of the money they need for a down payment, or very close to it, in exchange for partial ownership stakes in those residences.

The proposal, put forward by state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, comes as skyrocketing property prices broaden the divide between those who own their homes and those who rent in California. In the past year, Golden State homeowners gained $141,000 in home equity, on average, the housing research firm CoreLogic reported last week, more than in any other state.

California’s rate of home ownership, at 56%, is second lowest in the country behind New York, according to the American Community Survey data from the census. 

Atkins said the California Dream for All program is aimed at creating opportunities for lower- and middle-income buyers in a rapidly rising market, including those who have faced racial and economic barriers to homeownership.

“The California Dream for All program will give more people the chance to break free from the cycle of renting,” Atkins said last month. “This has the ability to change people’s lives.”

The proposal is the subject of negotiations between the Legislature’s Democratic supermajority and Gov. Gavin Newsom, also a Democrat, on how to spend a projected budget surplus of $97.5 billion. The legislature passed a budget on Monday that includes the proposal, though negotiations with Newsom continue on a final overall spending plan. 

A spokesman for the governor declined to comment on the proposal, citing the ongoing negotiations. It was not included in the governor’s original budget nor in his May revised budget.

A multi-billion dollar fund

The housing proposal – which would call for issuing revenue bonds of $1 billion a year for 10 years to create the fund — is the largest in a slew of proposals intended to promote homeownership this year. The proposal also includes $50 million in the budget this year, and $150 million per year after that to pay for the administrative costs of the program and the interest costs of the revenue bonds.

The program envisions helping some 7,700 borrowers a year, according to estimates made by the program’s designers based on home price projections. A start date for the proposed program has not been indicated.

If approved, the program would begin issuing interest-free second mortgage loans covering up to 30% of a home’s purchase price, though lawmakers expect many of the loans would cover 17%, asking borrowers to include 3% of their own money or pair the loan with other first-time buyer programs.

The interest-free loans would be paid back into a state fund whenever the home was sold, or if a bigger mortgage was acquired in a cash-out refinancing. For instance, if the fund provided 20% toward the purchase price of the home, the fund would get back its initial investment, as well as a 20% share of any increase in the home’s value. 

The program would reinvest those proceeds, giving the fund the ability to make new loans for eligible participants, even if prices have risen significantly.

As long as home prices rise, the plan would create equity for people who otherwise would have remained renters. The program also would generate enough returns for the state to help future homebuyers. 

If prices fall, homeowners might still gain some equity and the fund would absorb the losses, program planners said.

Building generational wealth

The program is intended to build as much flexibility as possible. Buyers who have lived in historically low-income neighborhoods can receive priority for some of the funds and can use shared appreciation loans to buy in their current neighborhoods or buy homes elsewhere.

“We need to make sure that the state’s homeownership assistance program serves people in all parts of the state, including in its high cost areas,” said Micah Weinberg, chief executive of the nonprofit group California Forward, which oversaw drafting the proposal.

“We cannot wait until more housing is built for these communities to begin to build the generational wealth that they were locked out of and deeply deserve,” he said during a recent legislative hearing.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

At $6.09 a Gallon, Los Angeles Pays Record Gas Price Over US Average

Los Angeles drivers know they pay more for gasoline than the average US driver: It’s the price for cleaner air in a state that’s made being green part of its DNA.

What motorists in LA — a city famed for its car culture — may not realize is that the amount they pay over the national average soared to more than $1.80 a gallon in late March, the widest in at least 10 years, according to data from the AAA.

So far, at least, the cash squeeze at the pump isn’t crimping travel plans, even though each tank costs about $24 more. The Auto Club of Southern California predicts 2.6 million local residents will take to the highways this Memorial Day weekend. That’s up 5% from 2021 but about 7% below 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The cause for the spike in prices earlier this year was refinery outages, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, which tracks prices at 150,000 US gas stations.

While the local refinery issues have largely been resolved, prices nationally have kept on climbing. Regular gasoline rose to $6.09 a gallon in LA this week, according to the AAA, still almost $1.50 more than the national average of around $4.60.

The higher prices in California are partly the result of taxes and state programs to reduce greenhouse gases, like a rule requiring a less-polluting blend of fuel. These measures add about $1.30 to the cost of a gallon, according to the Western States Petroleum Association, a trade group.

California also imports both oil and refined products, which must be trucked in or brought by tanker.

“We don’t have pipelines coming in from Texas and other parts of the country,” said Kevin Slagle, a spokesman for the oil group. “We have to ship it in from around the world.”

Prices, including the extra amount LA drivers pay, could spike again in the summer when travel picks up and a planned increase in the state tax is due to take effect. At the same time, a Chevron Corp. refinery in the state is scheduled for maintenance, and a South Korean refinery that supplies the US West Coast had some units offline after a fire.

To offer drivers some relief, Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who’s running for re-election this year, has proposed an $11 billion package that includes $400 refunds to personal car and truck owners, with a maximum of $800 for up to two vehicles.

Click here to read the full article in the Mercury News

California Says “NO” To Higher Taxes!

An overwhelming majority of Californians, 64% of the them, think that federal and state taxes are too high, according to a recent UC Berkeley/LA Times poll.
All those high taxes have contributed to California’s budget surplus, which has more than doubled since January to a staggering $68 billion!
Yet things don’t seem to change in Sacramento – regardless of the crime surge, inflation and high gas prices, a dismal education system, or whether it is universal publicly funded health care or reducing bovine methane emissions, the politicians in Sacramento keep talking about raising more taxes!
Why should there be such a big budget surplus in Sacramento when Californians feel over-taxed? Shouldn’t the surplus be given back to the taxpayers in the first place?

It is time to take action! Californian’s have the opportunity in this election year to ask their elected officials these fundamental questions!
And “Live in Taxifornia,” our weekly radio show on KABC 790 AM Talk Radio in Los Angeles, and our podcasts at www.KABC.com and www.Taxifornia.net, help give voice to these issues! Broadcast live on Sunday’s at 4 pm, all SO of our interesting one-hour shows are archived at www.Taxifornia.net and include policy discussions with many political leaders and elected officials on the most important issues facing our state.
You are invited to join in the debate and conversations about the future of California at “Live in Taxifornia!”
Visit www.Taxifornia.net to hear podcast interviews with California’s top political leaders, and sign up for our free email newsletter!

Gas Tax Fight and Memories of 1978

With the state government of California sitting on a budget surplus that exceeds $50 billion, Sacramento politicians can’t bring themselves to return a few dollars to middle-class taxpayers.

While the cost of consumer goods and services is rising rapidly, due mostly to feckless government policies, it is the cost of gasoline that truly sticks in the craw of average Californians. Conservatives in the Legislature, mostly Republicans, have accused the Democrats of intentionally running out the clock on providing gas tax relief before an automatic increase goes into effect on May 1st.

That accusation is well-founded.

Nearly a year ago, Republicans in the state Senate pushed for a “gas tax holiday,” including a full suspension on state gas tax collection for the current fiscal year.

The suspension could have easily been backfilled by the state’s overflowing general fund, which would protect transportation funding.

Later, they offered amendments formally requesting the suspension of the state gas tax and postponing the pending increase.

In the Assembly, who can forget the Democrats’ ambush of Assembly Bill 1638 by Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, another gas tax suspension proposal?

Again, by refusing to even hear the bill the ruling political class is revealed as wholly disconnected to the concerns of average citizens.

That’s too bad because a one year suspension of the gas tax would have reduced the cost of fuel by 51.1 cents per gallon, providing instant tax relief.

It is also an elegantly simple solution that would have been easy for state bureaucrats to administer.

While the majority party in the legislature has slow-walked gas tax relief, Gov. Gavin Newsom at least put the issue on the table by introducing some gas price relief in his original January budget as well as his March State of the State speech.

But legislative leaders in both houses rejected his proposal, falsely claiming that transportation projects wouldn’t be fully funded.

Rather, they said they would prefer some sort of direct payments to taxpayers but weren’t clear on who would get the money.

Which brings us to today, exactly where we were a year ago except that now, both the price of gas as well as the gas tax are higher.

It is no surprise that a recent PPIC poll reveals that record percentages of voters believe they are overtaxed. What is surprising, however, is why a majority of our elected representatives in Sacramento are turning a blind eye to the problem and not taking any meaningful action.

If past is prologue, political foot-dragging on tax relief can be very dangerous.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

Californians Don’t Get Much Bang for Billions of Bucks

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association isn’t shy about its mission.

Named for the chief architect of California’s Proposition 13 property tax limit, the organization fiercely defends Jarvis’ iconic 1978 measure against those — public employee unions, particularly — seeking its repeal.

So far, Jarvis and its allied groups have prevailed for more than four decades, most recently fending off a 2020 ballot measure that would have removed some of Proposition 13’s limits from business property.

But HJTA, as it calls itself, also works on a broader front, opposing most non-property tax increases and criticizing what it regards as wasteful spending of tax dollars. The latter effort includes an annual report on “waste, fraud and abuse” — essentially a summary of reports from news organizations and independent watchdogs such as the state auditor.

This year’s version, called “Follow the Money 2021,” contains dozens of examples of how public funds have been squandered, embezzled or otherwise misused, plus situations HJTA says show politicians getting special treatment.

One could quibble with some of the examples, but in the main they indicate that taxpayers often are not getting as much bang for their bucks as they should.

So, one might wonder, how does California compare with other states in that regard? By happenstance, as HJTA was preparing its report, an organization called Wallet Hub was offering an answer.

In March, Wallet Hub, a website devoted to consumer finance, released a study of what it calls “return on investment,” merging tax burdens with quality of services to develop an index that compares states on how efficiently they spend public funds.

The factors included in the service side of the equation include schools, roadways, hospitals, crime, water quality and poverty. Minnesota is scored as having the best services.

Unfortunately — but perhaps not surprisingly — California does not fare well in its “return on investment” score. In fact, it’s the fourth worst overall, just ahead of Hawaii, New Mexico and North Dakota. New Hampshire scores the highest, followed by Florida and South Dakota.

In services, California ranks 34th, but its tax burden, one of the highest in the nation, pulls down its overall “return on investment” score. Arch-rival Texas, incidentally, has the seventh highest return.

The HJTA report and the Wallet Hub comparison underscore an irritating aspect of governance in California — the eagerness of political officeholders to create new projects and services and their reluctance to evaluate whether their pet programs are delivering the promised results and intervene when they are falling short.

One of the cases HJTA cites, a high-tech budget tool called FI$cal, is a prime example of the syndrome. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on FI$cal over the last decade and a half and it’s still not working. The state auditor has issued 18 reports critiquing the project’s management and performance but governors and legislators continue throwing money down a rathole.

Many other examples are obvious, some particular projects such as FI$cal and some broader issues such as homelessness. It’s very near the top of voter concerns, as measured in polls and California taxpayers have spent billions of dollars on it. However, the problem seems to be, if anything, growing more acute as politicians and supposed experts debate what might work.

Click here to read the full article at the Press Enterprise

Lawmakers Hiking Taxes Amid A Surplus

California state government is projecting significant budget surpluses. In January, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state was expecting a surplus of $45.7 billion. Yet once again, state lawmakers have introduced legislation to raise taxes and fees by a combined $190 billion. More revenue is evidently never enough for Sacramento politicians. It’s time for them to learn to spend within their means.

The $190 billion figure comes from the California Tax Foundation’s “Tax and Fee” report, released earlier this month. For context, the proposed tax and fee increases come in the context of significant year-over-year spending increases by the state.

“The state budget for 2021-22 included $257.6 billion in total spending — a 13 percent increase from the prior year — and the governor’s proposed budget for 2022-23 calls for another major increase, to $286.4 billion,” the report notes.

Despite being able to spend tens of billions of dollars more per year, state lawmakers want even more money to play with.

Obviously, by far the largest of the tax proposals is linked to the now-dead single-payer healthcare plan proposed by Sacramento progressives.

Taken together, Assembly Bill 1400 and Assembly Constitutional Amendment 11 called for a $163 billion tax increase, “through the imposition of a gross receipts tax, payroll tax on employers and employees, and personal tax increase on individuals with income above $149,509.”

Then there’s Assembly Bill 2289 and Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8, which would impose a more than $22 billion per year wealth tax. CalTax notes that under these proposals, “California would become the only state to impose such a tax on art, collectibles, retirement funds, farm assets, stocks, and many other assets.”

Then there’s Assembly Bill 2802 which would impose a carbon tax that would hit California taxpayers to the tune of $5 billion to $10 billion per year.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

The Fed Has Failed In Its Inflation Mandate

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation clocked in at 7.9 percent for February, marking the highest level of inflation since January 1982. At this rate, consumer prices will double roughly every nine years.

The increase in prices includes many everyday consumer staples. The price of gas in February was up 38 percent since last year; utilities were up 24 percent, and steak and bacon were up 17 percent. Many clothing items were also up by double-digit percentages.

If we can learn anything from this, it is that the Federal Reserve has failed abysmally in its efforts to maintain low and stable prices.

Since 1977, the Federal Reserve has abided two distinct goals, known as its dual mandate. The first is to maintain a low and stable price level. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) considers a 2 percent annual change in the inflation rate of Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) — the Fed’s preferred inflation measure — to be consistent with its goal.

From 1990 to 2019, the rate of inflation for PCE averaged 2 percent and rarely exceeded 3 percent.

Then came 2020.

At an economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in August 2020, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell announced a fundamental shift in the Fed’s dual mandate — away from a 2 percent target and toward a goal of average-inflation targeting. This change amounts to running inflation above target for some time to make up for the below-target inflation of prior years.

The justification for these changes was largely based on the concern that below-target inflation would lower interest rates, diminishing the Fed’s ability to boost employment — the Fed’s second mandate — during economic downturns.

In addition, the Fed and its regional banks have been increasingly advocating progressive goals such as a focus on race, ethnicity, and gender when determining employment objectives.

forthcoming research article from the Independent Institute finds that Federal Reserve economists are increasingly driven by political activism and affiliation; they also demonstrate a growing preoccupation with politically charged topics such as climate change, discrimination, and economic inequality. These goals add more pressure on the Fed to maintain accommodative monetary policy, even as inflation spirals out of control.

Perhaps this provides another explanation for why the federal-funds interest rate is still at zero and the Fed is still engaged in quantitative easing after eleven consecutive months of the annualized CPI running above 4 percent.

When outlining its average inflation target in 2020, the Fed kept the details of its new inflation goals very vague — perhaps purposefully so. Jerome Powell noted that his aim was to “achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time.” The problem here is that no one truly knows how much and for how long the Fed plans to run inflation “moderately” above that mark.

No one actually believes that the Fed planned to run PCE inflation at 4 to 6 percent for a year or longer, yet that is exactly where we are heading. Even if we look at PCE inflation averaged over two years, to avoid base effects, average inflation is running at close to 4 percent and has been above the Fed’s 2 percent target since April last year.

When economists were polled in December 2021 on their inflation expectations, most believed that peak inflation had already passed and would return to the 2 percent trend by the end of 2022. Yet many of these same economists have been falsely forecasting peak inflation for almost a year. Somehow peak inflation keeps being pushed back.

A variety of mostly supply-side excuses have been offered to explain away what many saw as “transitory” inflation. These included high lumber pricesbase effectsdemand for used carsdrought in Taiwan, and broad supply-chain restraints. Yet even Fed chairman Powell retired use of the term “transitory” after realizing that inflation trends were proving to be persistent and at levels well above expectations.

There is a missing piece to this puzzle — namely, demand-side factors. Yet after 14 years of accommodative monetary policy and unprecedented increases in government spending, we rarely hear Fed officials talking about them.

Click here to read the full article at the National Review

Gas Price Relief Will Be Difficult

SACRAMENTO — Just how Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to make good on his promise this week to put money “back in the pockets” of Californians stung by the sharp rise in gas prices remains murky, but suspending or lowering the state’s highest-in-the-nation gas tax appears less and less likely.

The hesitation to tinker with California’s steep gasoline excise tax of 51 cents per gallon — even during an election year in which voters are feeling the pinch at the pump as prices continue to skyrocket amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — demonstrates just how politically sensitive the issue remains in a state known for its ribbons of freeways and worship of the automobile.

Though Newsom in his January budget proposal called for canceling an increase in California’s gas tax scheduled for July, his administration is also considering alternatives that could provide direct payments to residents.

The governor’s senior communications advisor, Anthony York, said Thursday that the administration is concerned that a cut in the state gas tax might not get passed along to drivers at the pump. The governor wants to ensure that any relief goes to Californians and is “not pocketed by the oil companies,” York said.

After Newsom vowed in his State of the State speech Tuesday to work with legislative leaders to provide Californians financial relief “to address rising gas costs,” senior advisor Dee Dee Myers also told reporters the rebates were likely to be sent to residents with vehicles and could cost the state billions of dollars. Administration officials have since backtracked on that, saying it was one of several options being explored by the governor.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) already signaled their opposition to lowering the gas tax, even temporarily, saying it would not provide substantial assistance and could reduce funding for critical road and bridge repairs statewide. They favor general tax relief to help Californians struggling with rising costs, not only for gas but food, rent and other life essentials.

Republicans are using the high gas prices to their political advantage.

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher of Yuba City has joined with other GOP lawmakers in calling for suspending all state gas taxes for six months, saying the state can afford to backfill funds for critical transportation projects with a portion of a massive state budget surplus that the Newsom administration estimates to be more than $45 billion.

“You’re telling me we can’t give this relief to consumers. One of the biggest things that they’re facing right now is the high cost of living, including gas, utility bills that are getting higher, rents, the cost of housing,” Gallagher said after hearing Newsom’s speech in Sacramento on Tuesday. “Something’s wrong. We’re not doing the things that we need to do to ensure that people’s costs are lowered.”

Gallagher said it would provide instant relief to Californians, particularly lower-income residents who are more likely to have long commutes to work.

In 2017, the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed Senate Bill 1, which then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law, levying the state’s first gas tax increase in 23 years to fix California’s roads and bridges in disrepair — 12 cents per gallon. Under the law, the tax increases each year on July 1 based on the growth in the California Consumer Price Index.

Last July, the tax increased from 50.5 cents per gallon to 51.1 cents per gallon. This upcoming July, it is scheduled to increase to 53.9 cents per gallon, according to the state Department of Finance. California’s total state taxes and other charges on gasoline are the highest in the country, according to the Tax Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank based in Washington.

The state expects SB 1 to generate more than $5 billion annually during the first decade of its implementation. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the state’s fuel taxes were expected to raise $8.8 billion in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Still, state officials say that will fall far short of the amount needed to address all the shortcomings in the transportation system, which would total $117 billion over the next 10 years and includes $20 billion to address the impacts of rising sea levels.

Matt Rocco, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation, said that with the gas tax still in place, the agency estimates it will have the $28.8 billion needed for the projects prioritized by the governor and Legislature in 2017, when the increase became law: pavement, bridges, drainage systems or culverts, and traffic congestion management systems.

Most of the state gas tax revenue supports state highway maintenance, rehabilitation and improvements, and nearly one-third goes directly to cities and counties.

The 2017 gas tax increase passed after a fierce debate in the Legislature, squeaking by in both the Assembly and Senate with the minimum votes required in both houses. Political turbulence followed closely.

In 2018, Republicans launched a successful recall effort against Orange County Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman, fueled by his vote in favor of the gas tax. Newman reclaimed his seat in 2020.

That same year, California voters rejected a statewide ballot measure, Proposition 6, to repeal the gas tax increase. The measure faced a barrage of opposition from trade unions, contractors, Democratic leaders and the California Chamber of Commerce, which said it “makes our bridges and roads less safe and jeopardizes public safety.”

“For decades, the gas tax was a toxic political football,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). “We need to just leave the gas tax alone and focus on other forms of tax rebates or other supports for working families. We have the tools to do that.”

California Transportation Commission member Michele Martinez, who served for 12 years on the Santa Ana City Council, said the state’s gas tax system is worthy of review, especially as the popularity of electric vehicles grows. Electric car owners don’t pay gas taxes but still drive on the same roads and bridges maintained by those who must pay the taxes, she said.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Democratic Leaders Reluctant To Halt California Gas Tax Hike

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Amid record-high gas prices, California’s Democratic legislative leaders said Wednesday they are reluctant to adopt Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to halt a gasoline tax increase scheduled to take effect in July because the resulting $500 million goes to vital programs.

“I certainly have concerns” and others among Newsom’s fellow Democrats in the Assembly do as well, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said. “That’s something that could potentially jeopardize a tremendous amount of jobs in this state, it could inhibit some economic growth.”

The hesitancy by Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins comes with an average $4.72 per gallon gas price in California, the highest in the nation and up $1.30 from a year ago. The national average is $3.51 a gallon, according to AAA.

Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk said “Sacramento Democrats are tone deaf if they think people don’t need a break at the pump.”

California taxes gasoline at 51.1 cents per gallon, second only to Pennsylvania, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. The planned tax increase is tied to inflation, which is surging. Last summer the tax increased from 50.5 cents per gallon.

Newsom, a Democrat, in his January budget proposed stopping the increase, at least for this year. That move would cost the state about $523 million in lost revenue that would otherwise go for things like roads and bridges. Newsom said that money can come instead from the state’s $45.7 billion surplus.

“We passed the gas tax for a very specific reason,” Rendon said. “We need to make sure that our transit operations are running and running smoothly. We want to make sure that our roads are safe and all those types of things. We want to make sure that our construction workers, folks in the building trades, are working on those projects.

“If we’re going to halt the gas tax, we want to make sure that we have a sense of what that means to our state and to our economy,” he added.

Atkins said the tax was approved with a difficult vote by lawmakers in 2017 and later ratified by voters. “It’s been doing the job,” she said.

Click here to read the full article at AP News