Both houses of the California legislature passed a 12-cent gasoline tax hike on Thursday, meeting Governor Jerry Brown’s deadline to provide an estimated $52 billion in new revenues, ostensibly for transportation infrastructure.
The bill, which also raises Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) fees, barely reached the two-thirds majority needed to raise taxes in both the State Assembly and the State Senate. Passage marks a huge political victory for Gov. Brown, who is in his fourth and final term as governor. The political consequences for legislators, however, have yet to be seen, as voters have not yet felt the pinch of a tax hike that, critics say, will hit rural and working-class Californians hardest.
The vote in the State Assembly was incredibly close, with the measure receiving no more than the 54 votes needed. The Los Angeles Times reported: “The bill posed a test of the Democratic supermajority, with members in swing districts wary of casting a politically unpopular vote to raise taxes. Legislative leaders and the governor amped up the arm-twisting in the hours before the vote, negotiating side deals to entice members with projects in their districts.”
Jerry Brown says all the projects he added to entice lawmakers to support the gas tax are worthwhile. pic.twitter.com/GoG46gWURv
— Christopher Cadelago (@CapitolAlert) April 7, 2017
In the State Senate, the vote was only slightly more favorable to the governor. He lost the support of State Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), a moderate Democrat who was the only member of his party to vote against the bill. In a statement reported by the East Bay Times, Glazer wondered why new taxes were necessary rather than diverting funds from the California High-Speed Rail boondoggle. But Gov. Brown gained an ally in the one Republican to vote for the new tax hike, State Sen. Anthony Canella (R-Ceres), who supported the measure in exchange for a project in his district, according to yourcentralvalley.com.
The bill now awaits Brown’s signature. The gas tax hike will be the largest in the state’s history, and the first in decades, in a state that already has some of the highest gas taxes in America.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.