The tax would start at 15 cents a gallon, raising an estimated $3.6 billion dollars a year. Most of the revenue would provide a tax credit for families earning less than $75,000; the rest, to mass transit systems.
Steinberg says California must respond to climate change – and that will sting. “But I am concerned about who we sting,” Steinberg told the Sacramento Press Club Thursday. “I say we return the majority of the money to the people who can least afford to foot the bill and who are already suffering most environmentally from the impact of climate change.”
Steinberg’s proposal drew criticism from environmental advocates. Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), who wrote California’s landmark greenhouse gas reduction law, says a carbon tax would conflict with AB 32’s overall goal of reducing climate change “… because it sends mixed signals to the major emitters – where some now are under a cap required to roll back, other people get a free pass, the motorists pay.”
The oil industry is neutral, but business groups don’t like the proposal. They argue companies and consumers would pay more at the pump. In fact, Steinberg acknowledges gas prices will go up regardless – under cap-and-trade or a carbon tax. “And it may not be popular to say, but that’s necessary. Higher prices discourage demand.”
That prompted this response from Peter DeMarco with the Senate Republican Caucus: “At least now we’re beginning to see a transparent listing of how much AB 32 regulations are gonna cost Californians.”
As for Governor Jerry Brown, his office reiterated his opposition to new taxes this year.
Health care advocates are concerned about a California law that allows the state to claim assets of deceased people who received health care through Medi-Cal.
UPDATE: Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders have released a new $7.2 billion water bond proposal, but there's no deal yet. To buy more time, lawmakers have extended Monday's key election deadline by 48 hours.
California senators approved a bill encouraging schools to educate students about Barack Obama's election in the context of past discrimination.
A water bond, a school bond, a statewide plastic bag ban and paid sick leave are all on California lawmakers’ agenda as they return Monday for their final month of session.
The California legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit law enforcement from using aerial surveillance drones without a warrant.