California Lawmakers Mull $65/Year Drivers' Fee

California's governor is proposing a "transportation package" that would include an increase in gas taxes and a $65 annual fee for drivers.

There's a $60 billion backlog of deferred maintenance to the state's transportation "infrastructure." Fuel taxes haven't been raised in two decades. So the time has come to pay the piper and the tune's about to be called in Sacramento.

The numbers being crunched right now are an additional six cents a gallon for gas, 11 cents for diesel, which would go up with inflation.

But Gov. Jerry Brown doesn't yet have the two-thirds majority votes needed in each house of the legislature for tax hikes, even from Democrats.

So advocates for business and transportation interests are calling on lawmakers to reach compromises before a large number of substandard freeways and bridges start to fail and threaten the state's "economic competitiveness."

With gas prices hovering under $4 a gallon, the fuel hikes alone apparently aren't a major sticking point.

For most motorists interviewed Friday by NBC 7, it's a proposed $65 annual driver's fee.

“Registration fees change every year,” said Paradise Hills resident Melissa Moreno. “And $65 more, not everyone can afford that."

Said Oak Park resident Mike Mitchell: “The guys that make all the big money -- they don't care."

Less concerned was North Park resident Xan Robinson.

"In the long run, $65 a year isn't that bad,” she shrugged. “I mean, you spend $65 on a purse, on shoes. You might as well put it toward your community."

Next Friday is the deadline for measures to get passed in Sacramento.

Republican lawmakers don't like the governor's approach. Enough Democrats don't, so as to keep him from getting two-thirds majorities in both houses needed to raise taxes.

Business and transportation groups are calling on the two sides to work out a compromise.

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