The Hypocrisy Of California’s Governor Brown

brown gas tax
The gas tax increase and his deal with the ‘hypocrisy-devil.’

California is at it again. Jerry Brown’s Senate Bill 1 (SB1), the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, is supposed to help solve dilapidated road issues. Drive on California’s highways and you’ll notice the need for massive improvements. Potholes, crumbling roadways, and lane markers that appear and disappear as roads have been re-directed for — wait for it — more road work.

California has the highest per gallon tax in the country. For every gallon of gasoline that goes into your vehicle, 71.9 cents goes to Federal, State and local taxes. Basically, every time you fill a 15 gallon tank you’re putting $10.79 into the tax coffers.

Governor Brown’s SB1 will raise the gas tax an additional 12 cents per gallon elevating the cost to consumers to 83.9 cents per gallon.

Diesel sales tax would also incur a substantial hit. It will jump from 16 cents per gallon to 36 cents. That’s a whopping 125% increase for the transportation sector. Common sense says that milk, bread, produce and any goods transported by trucks will have to follow suit to cover those costs.

Translation? We, the consumers, will not only be paying higher taxes but will be paying more money for goods. Double whammy!

Wait, I’m not finished, this is California after all.

Drivers will face an increased vehicle license fee of $38 per vehicle. Plus, a new annual fee to be paid with their vehicle registration — anywhere from $25 to $175. That new fee will be determined based on the value of your vehicle and those taxes and fees will rise each year with inflation.

What do these costs equate to? According to Brown’s math, the increase will raise an additional $52.4 billion dollars – yes, with a ‘B’ – over 10 years.

If this political math seems like deja vu don’t worry — you’re not smoking that legal California pot. It’s a re-run of the same television show. There have been 7 gas tax increases since 1983 including a 3.5 cent jump in 2013. Why? For the same reason — a shortfall in projected funds for road maintenance.

What was a contributing factor to the shortfall? Gasoline consumption has decreased due to Californians driving less and the increased use of alternative fuel vehicles that generate better fuel economy. You know, all the electric and hybrid vehicles that were vigorously pushed by liberal politicians in California.

“Electric cars are growing,” Brown said in a December 8, 2015 LA Times interview. “But they’re not ramping up at the level we need.”

I made the documentary, “Gas Hole,” narrated by Peter Gallagher, so I’m a proponent of alternative fuel and alternative fuel vehicles. It just seems hypocritical to punish California citizens for practicing exactly what Brown has been preaching.

Governor Brown has viciously attacked Trump’s environmental policies and bashed him for relaxing EPA regulations to stimulate economic growth.

At a forum for scientists in December, the governor vowed to protect policies aimed at curbing global warming and told a hyped up audience of Trump haters, “We’ve got the scientists, we’ve got the lawyers and we’re ready to fight.”

Yet, to win support from California truckers who face the 125% increase in diesel taxes, Brown had to make a deal with the ‘hypocrisy-devil.’ The environmental conscious Governor and legislative leaders agreed to restrict future regulations on greenhouse gas emissions emitted by commercial trucks.

That’s a fancy way of saying he will allow more pollution in California in exchange for their support of SB1.

The change in policy obviously angered environmentalists.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Legislature chose to sacrifice our clean air plans just to appease one pollution industry in their haste to rush through a transportation funding bill,” said Adrian Martinez, an attorney for Earthjustice.

Is Brown only concerned with environmental issues if they don’t get in the way of his political agenda? Apparently, on occasion, you have to reduce environmental restrictions to achieve certain financial wins for your team. Sound familiar? I guess you’re only demonized if you do that as a Republican.

I’m sure the Governor and his cronies looked at other ways to make up for the financial shortfall, right?

“I don’t think there are better options out there,” said Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, (D-CA). Really? Here’s an option:

According to the Federation of American Immigration Reform, California spends $21.8 billion dollars a year on illegal immigrant services. Doesn’t Governor Brown owe it to the citizens of California to attempt to shave off $5 billion a year from taking care of non-citizens? That would raise $50 billion dollars over a 10 year span without sticking it to the tax payers.

Yes, I know, in today’s political climate those are fighting words. Especially in a state that boasts about protecting sanctuary cities and has considered becoming a sanctuary state. I must be a racist and a bigot to even suggest such a controversial plan. Shame on me for looking at a sensible solution to keep more money in the pockets of Californians.

This won’t be the last gas tax increase to cover the road maintenance shortfall if Governor Brown meets his stated transportation goal. He wants to increase zero-emission vehicles from 160,000 on the road today to 1.5 million on the road in 2025. How many more fees and taxes will be needed to cover that gap?

Don’t worry, Governor Brown will make another deal with the ‘hypocrisy-devil’ to drain the pockets of his constituents while condemning republicans for their environmental records.

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About the Author

Scott D. Roberts
Scott D. Roberts is the writer, producer and co-director of the award-winning documentary, Gas Hole, narrated by Peter Gallagher & is the author of VENGEANCE IS NOW (The Tate Holloway series.) He's had screenplays and TV shows optioned/developed by Warner Brothers, Paramount, New Line, EUE/Screen Gems and Columbia. He can be reached at for questions and comments or found on Twitter @braint10