California lawmakers are back in town for their final four weeks of work this year. Special sessions on highway repairs and Medi-Cal funding top the priority list. But Republicans say they don’t support tax or fee increases for either issue.
Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats have suggested raising gas taxes and vehicle fees to pay for billions of dollars a year in road and highway projects. They’re also proposing to raise taxes on tobacco products and health insurance plans to stabilize California’s health insurance program for the poor.
Any revenue increase would require some Republican support, but Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff says that’s not likely. He notes the governor and Democrats just negotiated a budget that didn’t address either issue.
“They’re coming back and saying, we spent that money, $10 billion unanticipated revenue, and here, Republicans – we need your votes now to tax more,“ Huff told reporters at the Capitol Monday. "And they knew we wouldn’t want to do that.”
Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen says Republicans have proposed ways to use up to $6 billion a year in existing state funds for transportation projects.
“We don’t see revenue increases as necessary to be able to fund our road projects,“ Olsen says. “But we are willing to engage in all conversations and we’ll see how that ultimately comes together.”
Olsen also says she’d be “surprised” if a Medi-Cal funding deal moves forward this year.
Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the year in four weeks. The special sessions could – in theory – go longer, but that’s not considered likely.