FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Democrats in the legislature are pushing bills in the house and senate to give highway and road funding a big boost.
"This legislation would actually benefit the city of Fresno tremendously, we would get an additional $18-million in transportation funding annually and even Fresno County would get about $34-million a year," said Esmerelda Soria, Fresno City Council Member.
The measures, AB1 and SB1, rely on a gas tax increase of about 12 cents a gallon over three years, and hikes in vehicle registration fees, and additional fees for electric vehicles to generate the money.
Republicans have an alternate plan; that they claim won't cost any money because it will take it from elsewhere in the state budget. Assembly Member Frank Bigelow is a supporter of Assembly bill 496.
"It won't cost the people anything because we are not going to raise their taxes. We are going to live with the money they are already giving us."
Under the republican plan $6-billion in transportation type funds that have been diverted elsewhere will be used on roads. Bigelow does not believe taking the money back from elsewhere in the budget will hurt.
But the Governor has his own plan, an 11 cent a gallon hike in the gas tax and an increase in registration fees. Whatever happens in the legislature, Caltrans spokesman Cory Burhkarth says it's pretty obvious more is needed.
"You'll notice the potholes, especially if you drive on Highway 99, yesterday we dumped over 250 buckets of material, last week we dumped over 10,000 pounds of material to fill as many potholes as we can. They are popping up faster than we can repair them."
Caltrans said the current storms have resulted in half a billion dollars in damage statewide, that comes on top of a built in $6-billion a year shortage in road repair funds.
Previous efforts to raise gas taxes have failed due to a lack of Republican support, but Democrats have a super majority now and may be able to bypass the Republicans, and with the terrible condition of the state roads, might have more public support.