In the first poll, after Gov. Jerry Brown’s asked the California Legislature to raise gas taxes and vehicle registration fees to spend $5.2 billion a year more on transportation, voters solidly oppose paying more taxes to pay for Caltrans decision making by 3 to 1.
SurveyUSA polled 500 Californians on March 30, just after Brown announced on March 29 that he wants to “fix” transportation infrastructure by jacking-up the gasoline excise tax by 67 percent and bumping up the vehicle license fee by up to another $175 a year.
Brown had told National Public Radio that Democrat leaders in both branches of the Legislature planned to ram a bill through next week, despite Republicans calling it the state’s largest tax increase. Brown did not expect much opposition because the bill would only cost drivers $10 per month and reduce car repairs: “Yes, it costs money. And if the roof in your house is leaking, you better fix it, because it gets worse all the time.”
But Breitbart News commented that for a family of four with two teenage drivers, Brown’s $10 a month per driver works out to almost $500 a year. To pass such regressive and very unpopular taxes under state law, Brown would need virtually every vote from the state’s two-thirds Democrat majorities in both legislative branches.
Brown’s party painfully remembers that when Democrat Gov. Gray Davis tried to triple vehicle registration fees in 2003, he was recalled and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger won a special gubernatorial election by promising to immediately rescind the fees.
SuveyUSA asked voters six questions:
- How would you rate the condition of roads and highways in California?
- 8% Excellent
- 26% Good
- 38% Fair
- 27% Poor
- 1% Not sure
- Do support or oppose a 12 cent per gallon increase in the gasoline tax to spend $52 billion on transportation over the next ten years?
- 37% Support
- 44% Oppose
- 19% Not sure
- Do you support or oppose the plan’s 20 cents per gallon increase in the tax on diesel fuel?
- 36% Support
- 46% Oppose
- 18% Not sure
- Do you support or oppose the plan’s $100 fee on electric and hybrid vehicles, which use less fuel?
- 42% Support
- 43% Oppose
- 14% Not sure
- Do you support or oppose a “transportation improvement fee” of $25-$175 a year, depending on the value of the vehicle, added to vehicle registration fees?
- 26% Support
- 59% Oppose
- 14% Not sure
- Republicans are calling the plan the largest gas tax increase in state history, adding $5 billion to Caltrans’ budget of $10.5 billion, are additional funds needed or should Caltrans make better use of gas tax revenue it currently gets?
- 23% Additional funds needed
- 61% Make better use of revenue
- 16% Not sure
SuveyUSA also analyzed the results by gender, age, race, party affiliation, ideology, education, income, urbanity, and region. But with voters seeming to recognize that gas taxes and registration fees tend to be regressive because they impose similar costs on all income groups, the results tended to be very consistent across different demographics.