Atkins Proposes $1.8 Billion Tax on CA Drivers

For the second time in as many weeks Californians got the news that Sacramento politicians are proposing yet another big tax hike.  The truth is that new taxes would never be required were it not for Sacramento’s mismanagement of existing tax dollars.

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Last week, it was the proposal to deal with the very real problem of “revenue volatility” in California’s tax structure with the very unreal “solution” of a $10 billion tax on services.

But the latest proposal comes from new Senate leader Toni Atkins who proposes a brand new tax on drivers to pay for highway and road repairs in California.  This new “fee” would take $1.8 billion dollars out of the pockets of hard working California citizens over the next five years.

Now, most Californians would wholeheartedly agree that our roads are in terrible shape.  Years of neglect have resulted in a highway system that, according to a recent state report, requires a massive infusion of $59 billion.  But taxpayers have a very good question that has yet to be answered:  How is it that California has the highest gas tax in the nation and yet cannot keep its roads in decent condition?

Moreover, although the exact nature of this new “fee” has yet to be determined, Senator Atkins’ comments in proposing the new revenue source can only be described as foolish and insulting. Here is what she said:  “California cannot have a strong middle class or a thriving economy if our roadways are congested and people and goods cannot move efficiently.”

Really?  A left-wing politician now claims that this new tax is needed to protect the middle class?  She is simply blind to the truth that the progressive policies of heavy taxation and over regulation are crushing the middle class in California.  As is so common now in California, statements from politicians such as Atkins reveal a profound disconnect between their pampered lives and the lives of ordinary citizens.

So, instead of slamming Californians with another tax hike, what is a better way to meet the funding needs for our crumbling highway system?  Glad you asked.

First, let’s demand that gas tax revenues pay for roads, not bike lanes, environmental mitigation programs and mass transit.  The latter programs are all well and good, but gas taxes should go for roads.  (For purposes of full disclosure, as a cyclist I support bike lanes.  But I don’t want my gas taxes paying for them).

Second, how much of our transportation dollars are wasted on burdensome labor restrictions?  So-called “Project Labor Agreements” add between 25 to 35% to the cost of highway construction. Let’s get rid of PLA’s and, while we’re at it, “prevailing wage” laws which also add to the cost of construction unnecessarily.

Third, let’s direct valuable transportation dollars to those systems that actually work.  This would mean abandoning the doomed-to-fail High Speed Rail Project that is sucking up tax dollars in a way that voters never approved.

Fourth, we can agree that gas tax revenue has fallen a bit short of expectations because cars are now more fuel efficient.  But if that is the case, why does the state still subsidize electric vehicles? Shouldn’t we abandon those subsidies and direct those dollars to filling potholes?

Instead of reflexively demanding higher taxes, our elected officials should do what other states seem to do without controversy – prioritize spending.  Now there’s a novel concept.

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.

Originally published at


  1. Not much I can say. I think Jan covered it pretty well.
    My only comment is, if this had to be voted on by the citizens:
    NO TAX IS TEMPORARY, no matter how much the pork-a-ticians state to the contrary.

  2. Another slap at the middle class by the people that say they love them.

  3. Everything said is spot on. I honestly believe that they need to check the water in Sacramento, there MUST be something in it that causes this stupidity.

    • No need to check the water in Stinkramento, they need a sanity check of all libturd demo-creeps! Just where in the hell do they think all this money is gonna come from? We have NEVER had a ragingly great economy with so much welfare and poverty AND free crap for ALL illegal aliens! Fix the economy STUPID and that requires REMOVAL of all the DUMB crap the feds have mandated UNNECESSARILY! Getting rid of governor moonbat sure would help too!

  4. AMAZING, a politicians solution to a problem MORE TAXES!
    How creative an innovative solution to them squandering money, collect more money….
    Sacto Legislature – GO TO HELL!

  5. The voters vote for these people who want to raise taxes, I can only assume that is what they want….I vote for people who vote against the taxes.

  6. Maybe we should have this tax assessed at the calif borders from all non-residence that enter the state ?

    • Or, the Sales Tax can just be raised to cover the anticipated needed revenue (plus The Vig), with a discount (back to the current rate – or less) for those who can present a valid CA picture ID showing an address within the state.

  7. Why would the citizens of California trust that any new tax would be used for roads and highways, we had a gas tax before, which was mismanaged and misappropriated, and was sent to the general fund…. From here out, any bond, bill, fee or tax that is passed needs to have an accountability statement that if the tax is used for any other purpose that what’s intended for the writer forfeits his job. Sacramento needs to be held accountable for everything they do, or say, we as citizens are tired of liars in government…

  8. Robert S. Allen says

    Let’s compare 2008 Prop 1 (withdrawn) and Prop 1A (what voters approved). 1A includes “Safe, Reliable” in title – which “Blended Rail” ain’t! 1 was for HS Railroad from San Francisco to Los Angeles. 1A just linked Southern California Counties, the Central Valley, and the SF Bay Area. It’s revealing how they changed 1 to 1A tp woo the voters.

  9. When gas prices were higher, did they offer to lower the taxes to help hurting families. No way. Now they are down, probably temporarily and they want some of these families savings. These politicians are maggots. The people need to rise up and crush them under their heals.

  10. How dare Jon have solutions! Inching closer to 100% slave to the state. The feds are talking about more slavery via a federal gas tax hike.

  11. Is it true that a proposal has been made that all autos in CA be affixed with a device that tracks miles driven which would enable the State to tax the registered owner $0.015/mile driven? One of the rationales for this approach is that an additional tax on gasoline purchases only affects gas-powered autos. This approach would also be expensive to administer. (However, it would be a boon for the manufacturer of the required device.) I would suggest that the State add another annual fee to each auto registration renewal. And that the fee be a set dollar amount that is set by the State legislature. This approach would not incur any additional administrative costs and would be equitable for all autos registered in California.

  12. TruthandtheAmericanWay says

    Darn she looked very mad in this photo doesn’t she!

    Once again, another tax or fee without any of the required house cleaning that is so long overdue in Sacramento, especially since this state has the highest gas tax. Therefore, Senator where is that money going??? I know she will not answer because she is now there for her desires and the lobbyists. Clearly, she and others do not give a hoot about the people! Taking (or better stated stealing) is better than explaining to the people why the money coming in from the overburdened CA taxpayers that is being drained away because of tons and tons of mismanagement, malfeasance, and as noted in some articles by fraud.

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