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Bill would cap two gasoline taxes

5:24 PM, Apr 20, 2012   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA - Whereever you fill up in California, gasoline is painfully expensive!

"My truck is going to take 22 gallons. $92 to fill up," said Dan Salazar. "That's a big hit."

"Right now, I only put $20 bucks. I'm a college student. So I could only do a little at a time," Andrew Steele said.

Small relief may be on the way. 

State Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, proposes the state cap a couple of the gas taxes. The excise tax would be limited to 35.7 cents a gallon and the sales tax would only apply to the first $4 of the price of gasoline. It'll save about 8 cents a gallon if the price reaches $5 a gallon.

"The excise tax that we pay, the sales tax is also calculated on that too. So it's the taxes on taxes. I, for one, have had it with that. It's time to say no," Dutton said.

But critics want to remind Californians some of the gas taxes help pay for road repair. So the savings at the pump in taxes may mean you'll have to dish out more for, say, hitting that pothole.

"We spend about $2 billion a year on pothole repair and the need is $6 billion and climbing," said Bert Sandman with the Transportation California Commission. "In fact, each motorist spends an average of $586 in repairs a year on his or her vehicle."

A California Transportation Commission report late last year assessed the state needs roughly $350 billion to rehabilitate or maintain our current system, which is why Salazar thinks we shouldn't mess with capping the gas taxes.

"What are we talking about? $2? Not worth it to me," Salazar said. "If they do, what is that going to do to the highways? And the bridges that need to be fixed?"

The savings, though, is attractive.

As Steele said, "If we could cap the tax, any savings is good for anybody right now. That's a step in the right direction."

Critics also point out the $20 billion transportation bond that voters approved in 2006 runs out in two years. So money for roads will become even more scarce.

The gas tax cap proposal goes before the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday.

Nannette Miranda


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