San Diego

Local Leaders Support Gov. Brown's $52 Billion Road Repair Plan for California

Bad roads and highways need your pennies

How do you convince people they should pay more at the gas pump? That's the challenge facing Sacramento politicians and state union leaders.

"It is the largest investment in state history," said State Senate leader Kevin de Leon.

An investment that pays dividends in better streets, roads and highways. But who wants to pay 12 cents more at the gas pump?

"We're looking at the sweet spot," said de Leon, "We don't want it too high obviously, you don't want it too low.  If it's too low it's not going to make a difference for California."

Those pushing for the tax increase, including Governor Jerry Brown, argued that it is the first gas excise tax increase in 23 years. Senate Bill supporters said it will raise $52 billion over 10 years.

The proposal also includes higher taxes on diesel fuel and a $100 annual fee on zero-emission vehicles.

"While the folks who are driving old Fords, old Toyota's are paying their fair share, we want the folks who are driving Tesla's to pay their fair share too," said Assemblymember Todd Gloria, with the 78th District in San Diego County.

But will drivers embrace the idea of seeing their transportation costs go up?

Many complained when prices go up 5 or 8 cents--this increase is 12 cents for every gallon.

University of San Diego economist Alan Gin said that for every penny increase at the gas pump, the San Diego economy loses one million dollars.

"I'm not worried about this doing harm to our economy," said Gloria, "I'm concerned about continuing not to do anything is going to do tremendous harm to our economy."

On Wednesday, NBC 7 spoke to several San Diegans who voiced their opposition to the plan. Some stated they were unsure the money would even be used for road repairs and expressed doubt in seeing any improvement.

Friday, Gloria said he suported the hike because the expenditures would be transparent.

“This legislation includes high accountability standards to insure that these funds are spent wisely and transparently so that they cannot be diverted to other uses, other than our transportation,” Gloria said.

Supporters argued that California drivers spend more than $700 every year in repairs due to pothole filled roads. They also argued the tax increase will mean more money into the local economy from additional construction jobs.

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