Gov. Jerry Brown, state lawmakers announce gas tax increases to fix California’s roads
Los Angeles Daily News
Governor Jerry Brown and state lawmakers announced a tax plan on Wednesday to raise $52 billion in revenues to repair the state’s roads. The revenues comes from significant tax increases on gasoline and diesel fuels, higher car registration fees and a charge on emission-free vehicles. The 10-year plan raises gas taxes for the first time in more than two decades. Gas taxes would rise 12 cents a gallon – a 43 percent increase and be tied to inflation. Owners of zero-emission vehicles would pay a $100 annual fee for road usage as they don’t pay gas taxes. The proposal will address the nearly $60 billion backlog in deferred road maintenance. Further delay in repairs will only increase the cost over time. The tax plan must pass both houses of the legislature by a 2/3rds vote.
A new statewide poll released Wednesday shows little-known Republican John Cox now leading the pack of candidates trailing frontrunner Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom for next year’s gubernatorial race. Among the five announced candidates, Newsom is ahead with 28 percent, followed by Cox at 18 percent. After them are three Democrats: former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at 11 percent, State Treasurer John Chiang at 8 percent and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin at 3 percent. Nearly a third of voters remain undecided. Newsom holds a considerable advantage among Democrats, with 40 percent of Democrats polled supporting Newsom. The highest two voter getters in the primary, regardless of party, advance to the November run-off election.
President Trump and the White House staff are moving on to tax reform following a stinging defeat in the House for Obamacare repeal. Trump has tasked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin with making many of the pitches on the issue to lawmakers, in an effort to win moderate Republicans and Democrats in a bipartisan coalition. Marc Short, the president’s legislative affairs director, has begun inviting Democrats to the White House. Several administration officials also explained in interviews that they were disappointed with the effort on health care and want to change directions from negotiating heavily with conservatives and leaving the bill-writing to Speaker Paul Ryan.
Sen. Ricardo Lara on Thursday released some provisions of a proposed single-payer health care system that would drastically alter California’s insurance market, but details about how it would be financed are still pending. Under the single-payer plan, the state would negotiate prices for services and prescriptions with providers, pharmaceutical companies and others. Californians would be required to participate in the public program and insurance companies would be barred from offering coverage for services already included in the plan. The Healthy California Act, also known as Senate Bill 562, would cover all medical care, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency care, dental, vision, mental health and nursing home care. The bill would eliminate co-pays and insurance deductibles, allow Californians to choose their doctor and referrals would not be required.
President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan is attracting some support following Republicans’ defeat on healthcare reform. The infrastructure package was expected to sit on the sidelines until the fall but lawmakers on Capitol Hill think that timeline could be accelerated with more room on the legislative agenda and an administration eager to score a victory. Some lawmakers warn that Trump’s infrastructure agenda could actually be complicated by the failure to repeal ObamaCare, which would have cut into the deficit and provided a budgetary offset for other legislation.
President Trump’s new executive order, signed on Tuesday, leaves little doubt that his views on climate differ from his predecessor’s. President Obama made the startling claim that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” Unable to get Congress to pass a climate bill, he pursued an ambitious regulatory agenda. President Trump’s new order is an about face, directing agencies to evaluate many of those regulations and to “suspend, revise, or rescind” them.
The pension fund for California teachers is about $97 billion short of the assets it would need to pay all of the benefits it owes to its members today, according to a new valuation from the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS). The $202 billion fund has about 63.7 percent of the assets needed to pay the benefits it owes. This reflects a 4.8 percent decrease in CalSTRS’ funded ration from its most recent assessment.