Local Assembly Member Hopes New Tax Will Clean Up Valley Air

Fresno, CA Assembly member Juan Arambula said the health of valley residents is in limbo because of poor air quality from cars and trucks on the road. "We've had bad air quality for decades and we're going to have it for many decades to come unless we start cleaning it up," said Arambula.

Arambula has sent a new bill to the Senate floor that, if passed, would give the air district permission to tax residents in the 8 county area on their vehicle license fees.

Arambula said: "What is more important than having clean air to breath?"

Fees could increase from $7 up to $30. Rick McVaigh says the tax would help the air district repair or replace city and county vehicles. Money would also fund development of cleaner burning cars and grants to purchase them. "But for less than the price of a half tank of gas we think we can clean up the air that hundreds of thousands of valley residents breath so we think it's a good idea," said McVaigh.

Cars and trucks aren't the only reason for our bad air quality. Scientists say other factors hurt as well: ozone, seasonal fires and the large number of dairy farms in the area. Some drivers we spoke with said a new tax aimed at them doesn't sit well at all.

"Yeah I really worry about the air quality too but really I worry about the taxes going up even more and more," said Fresno's Miss Jackson.

Chris Mathys said: "There's not a tax Juan doesn't like. You know Juan loves taxes."

Former Fresno city councilmember Chris Mathys (pronounced "Mah-Tee-S") is used to balancing budgets but now is a financial advisor and director of anti-tax group. Mathys believes this new tax is a bad idea. "Over 50% of our customers are having financial difficulties. The last thing they want is yet another tax they can't control," he said.

The bill's on the Senate floor where it's expected to be voted on in August. If the governor approves, the air district would be in charge of creating the fee structure.

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