Democrat Push to Raise Car Tax Causes DMV Confusion

Monday, July 18, 2011

Californians despise the car tax and for good reason. 

As we all know, driving is becoming more expensive in California, especially in the North State.  We have to pay higher gas prices and higher maintenance costs just to maintain a necessary part of our livelihood. Every day, motorists spend a significant portion of their day in cars, driving to and from work, taking their children to school, visiting family members and shopping for groceries.

That's why it is no surprise that a recent poll conducted by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California found that 61% of likely voters opposed increasing the car tax. These are not just Republicans who said they were opposed.  Democrats and Independents are strongly opposed to it too.

By pushing an increase in the car tax (Vehicle License Fee) this year, Governor Brown and legislative Democrats have shown how out-of-touch they are with the priorities of California families. They wanted to impose a $1.4 billion annual increase in the car tax for the next five years to pay for higher government spending and union giveaways.

As Vice Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, I led the charge to reject the higher car tax and other taxes that Democrats wanted.  Dismayed that they could not get Republicans to capitulate immediately to their demands, they passed a little-known law called Senate Bill 94 in May that made significant changes to the way the DMV notifies car owners about their upcoming registration renewal fees/car taxes.

The purpose of the charge was to ensure as many drivers as possible would pay the higher car tax assuming Republicans would go along. We did not.

Predictably, car drivers with registrations expiring in July and August became confused by this change. My office received phone calls and letters asking whether their insurance coverage would be affected by this change because their policies were valid only with a current vehicle registration. Thankfully, we found out that affected drivers who are driving without updated registrations will continue to be insured thanks to a 30-day grace period beyond their renewal date.

United Republicans blocked the extension of the near doubling of the car tax. Then, behind closed doors, the majority party passed a legally suspect $12 per vehicle registration fee increase by a simple majority vote.

I believe that under Proposition 26 such a fee increase requires a two-thirds vote. The whole intent of Prop. 26, approved by voters just last year, is to make it harder for the Legislature to pass higher taxes disguised as fees.

Again and again, most recently last November, voters rejected an increase in the car tax. The governor and Democrats fixated on spending and taxing business-as-usual in Sacramento, are just not listening to the people of California.

This 'car-tax-two-step' hurts us all and affirms you simply can't trust government with your pocket book.

The state must find ways to cut spending and stimulate the economy to fix our budget problems, instead of asking for a taxpayer bailout and sowing confusion in the process. Our problems were not caused because we do not have enough money, it is because government continues to spend and spend as if there is no tomorrow. It is time Sacramento recognizes that problem instead of fleecing taxpayers even further.