SACRAMENTO, CA - In what could be the first test of the Democrats' new supermajority powers in the Legislature, a group called Transportation California has asked state Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, to introduce legislation to triple the vehicle license fee you pay to register your car.
The proposed formula is 1.35 percent of the value of the vehicle.
They want it to be a constitutional amendment so it will dedicated only to roads, which means voters would still have to approve it.
It could raise as much as $4 billion a year for roads and public transit ... both of which have been underfunded for years because of the budget crisis.
"At this point, it's time to step up and try to address the state highway and local street and road repair needs," Transportation California spokesman Mark Watts.
The car tax is a touchy subject with Californians.
Their hatred of it partly led to Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory as governor because he promised to repeal the law that tripled the car tax in the first place ... and he did the first day on the job.
There were not many people at the DMV who would agree to pay more, even it means better roads.
"If you triple my tax for my car, you're just basically ttaking food out of my kids' mouths," said driver Joseph Owen.
"Yeah, that's a lot," said Ron Lowe. "That's two weeks of groceries for me. So definitely don't want that to happen."
Voters just approved a temporary sales tax hike on themselves and an income tax increase on the wealthy to save public schools.
The new money is expected to create a budget surplus by 2014.
Pollsters say another tax measure probably wouldn't stand a chance.
"I think it would be very hard for voters, particularly if we're seeing our own revenue numbers improving, to think it's time to pass another tax," said Mark Baldassare with the Public Policy Institute of California.
While Democratic leaders often point to the repeal of tripled car tax as the start of California's budget problems, they're less than enthusiastic about restoring it.
St. Sen. Darrell Steinberg/D-Senate President or D-Sacramento: "I've been very clear: I don't think we ought to start this year and lead off proposing more taxes," said Sentate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.