Senator DeSaulnier Statement on Bill to Create Voluntary Pilot Study of Gas Tax Alternative

May 8, 2014 8:00 am · 47 comments

Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) is speaking out about the proposed voluntary pilot study of a gas tax alternative, and he’s also killing a few rumors about the controversial bill that would look at the feasibility of taxing Californians by how many miles they drive.

The following information is from Senator Mark DeSaulnier:

“SB 1077 authorizes the California Transportation Agency to merely conduct a voluntary pilot program to study the feasibility of using a mileage-based fee to replace the existing gas tax. The program would be completely voluntary—no one would be forced to participate. The bill does not allow the California Transportation Agency to even collect fees from volunteers participating in the study. The bill asks the California Transportation Agency to conduct what amounts to a hypothetical dry run of a mileage-based fee and report its findings to the Legislature.

The gas tax is ultimately an unsustainable way to fund adequate maintenance of our roads. We will need to examine several alternatives to the gas tax. SB 1077 allows us to study one of those alternatives.”

-Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord)

Frequently Asked Questions: SB 1077

Q: What does this bill do?

A: SB 1077 requires the California Transportation Agency to conduct a pilot project to study the challenges and opportunities of implementing a mileage-based fee to replace the existing gas tax.  California Transportation Agency will then report to the Legislature on specific issues related to privacy, cost, and fairness.

This bill DOES NOT: 

•    allow California Transportation Agency to force anyone to participate in the pilot project
•    allow California Transportation Agency to charge a fee or a tax
•    have anything to do with raising taxes on anyone

Q: Why study this issue?

A: The gas tax is ultimately an unsustainable way to fund our transportation system. We need to ensure that we can continue adequate maintenance of our roads. 

California is not alone in facing a transportation fiscal cliff. In order to address this challenge, states have been considering various ways to eventually replace the gas tax. A mileage-based fee (MBF) is one of several alternatives. SB 1077 allows us to test the feasibility of this particular option.

Q: Who will participate in the pilot?

A: This bill does not force anyone to participate in the pilot program. It is completely voluntary.
Media reports that an entire California city will be chosen to participate in the study are false.

Q: Does this increase any taxes?  Will I be taxed twice?

A: No, this bill does not increase taxes.  It doesn’t even allow the state to collect money to administer the pilot.  The bill is intended to explore ways to replace the existing base gas tax, not supplmenet the tax base.

Additionally, the bill does not specify an amount of money to be charged for any potential mileage-based fee. Media reports suggesting that the state will begin implementing a mileage-based fee of $0.05 per mile are erroneous.

Q: How will my information be used if I volunteer to participate?

A: SB 1077 specifies that as minimal as possible personal information is collected for the study. Part of the reason for conducting the study is to see if a mileage-based fee could be collected in a manner that is respectful to the privacy of taxpayers.

Big brother May 8, 2014 at 8:12 AM

In light of the issues of government spying on emails and phones, do we really want them to track our every movement in our car? Why don’t they use the almost 60 cent per gallon income on road maintenance? I bet a portion of that money is going to mass transit and bike lanes.

Taxed Enough Already May 8, 2014 at 8:22 AM

No wonder why everybody is leaving California.

J May 8, 2014 at 8:25 AM

Cities are required to spend a certain amount of money on roads and signs during their fiscal year. If they do not spend the allotted amount, their boards will take away funding for the next fiscal year, forcing cities to spend money on roads that don’t need the attention.

Why do we have a minimum spending limit? Does this make sense to anyone in this economy?!

We pay taxes out of our paychecks, then we turn around and pay sales tax and gas tax. Not to mention we pay to register our cars every year (even though the state already has our info) instead of just updating.

And he is up for reelection??? May 8, 2014 at 8:36 AM

Well, really? Now we want some government agency (tax dollars spent) to track mileage? And it’s what does that say about your test results?

Gas tax does work and is the ONLY fair way to fund transportation, since the more you “use” the highways, the more gas you buy. But then there are all the UNION interests for other transportation means…bus, train, BART, and many others. Tax Tax Tax, and then gas tax. Look at the California gas tax now… OVER 40 cents on every gallon. Do the math.

Go back to sleep Mark.

NO NO NO May 8, 2014 at 8:39 AM

A: The gas tax is ultimately an unsustainable way to fund our transportation system. We need to ensure that we can continue adequate maintenance of our roads.


It has worked for a long time. I think the problem is that corrupt politicians NEVER GET ENOUGH, and WANT MORE, MORE MORE!

Don May 8, 2014 at 8:45 AM

“We need to ensure that we can continue adequate maintenance of our roads.”

Since when are the current conditions of the roads we have “adequate”? We have some of the highest road usage tax in the nation, yet we have some of the worst roads. You can always tell when you cross back into California from OR, NV, AZ. It goes from quiet smooth roads to jeep trails! Senator DeSaulnier, take your nonsense somewhere else, we are all stocked up here!

Nuttsie the Nutter May 8, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Let the conspiracy theories begin.

primo May 8, 2014 at 9:00 AM

make this guy go away
just vote NO and NO and NO
he was useless in CoCoCo-he left us with an terrible pension deficit among other problems.
Guess who pays for his inaction ????????????????

futbllwmn May 8, 2014 at 9:10 AM

Voluntary? Yeah, sure. It will turn into mandatory before you know it.

ClayDen May 8, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Part of the problem is collecting tax on electric cars. Also, they are collecting less tax on the high gas mileage cars, including hybrids. Part if this is a non-issue, as the smaller and lighter cars reduce wear and tear on the roads and thus should pay less per mile driven than a heavier car.

Most new cars have a built-in GPS already, so collecting tax based on miles driven would be very easy. However, it would also allow the government to track everyplace you go, when you go there and how fast you drive there. This is the big issue: personal liberty. One answer: NO!!! There are other ways to accomplish this. Many insurance companies require periodic reporting to set your insurance rates, and this could be used for non-gas or diesel powered cars to collect the road use tax without the intrusion of GPS tracking. The reporting could be done like the current smog check program, which would allow for verification of the proper operation of the odometer. DeSaulnier’s action is typical of a big-brother Democrat.

Pegasus May 8, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Rather than obligate (waste) taxpayer’s hard earned money on yet another boondoggle, why not ask the nice folks in Oregon how their identical program is working out.
Of course that would prevent diverting our money to your supporters.

Well... May 8, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Q: How will my information be used if I volunteer to participate?

A: SB 1077 specifies that as minimal as possible personal information is collected for the study. Part of the reason for conducting the study is to see if a mileage-based fee could be collected in a manner that is respectful to the privacy of taxpayers.

I think they will make you supply your mileage whrn you register your car every year. Your “tax” will probably be collected at that time. So when you pay the $200 registration fee, you will have to pay the mileage tax on top of that.

For me, I drive about 13,000 miles a year. X’s that by the percentage fee ( don’t remember what they are quating) and now I have a large fee every year.

Ricardoh May 8, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Last year over fourteen billion gallons of gas was sold in California. The state tax on gas gave the state about eight billion dollars. The feds got less but should be used for the same purpose. Where is the money going? I couldn’t get much information. Eight billion dollars and they need more? I want to know where this money has been spent.

Drvrdadca May 8, 2014 at 9:48 AM

The only logical (if there is one) reason for this is to get all the hybrid nuts to pay a share. All these hybrids and electric cars pay little to no gas tax.

I have an idea, why don’t the hybrids and electrics pay more for registration to compensate for the lack of gas taxes? Or better yet, take the tax break they give to these enviro nuts and use that for the roads.

Just my 2 cents (which ain’t worth much anymore)

Anonymous May 8, 2014 at 9:50 AM

The gas tax is unsustainable as long as DeSaulner, the gas bag ,is throwing money away. Lack of leadership , especially on the BART strike and Bay Bridge cost over runs are not our fault, they are DeSaulniers fault.

As has previously posted by many , there is no end to DeSaulniers lust for new taxes and fees.

D May 8, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Conserve on gas, conserve on electricity, conserve on water…Oh no, we don’t have enough money now because everone is doing such a great job. Let’s tax them for conserving. 🙁

Kirkwood May 8, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Actually, I think it’s not a bad idea to pay by the mile rather than by the gallon. As time goes on our vehicles will use less and less gas, especially with the advent of efficient gas and gas/electric vehicles. This means less money for highways while the costs of maintaining them increase. At one time state gas taxes were dedicated to highway maintenance but our Governor (I forget which one) redirected that money into the General Fund in order to balance the budget. That was the beginning of the end of our highway system. Up until about 1960, California had the best roads in the nation.
The task will be to find a way to report individual vehicle miles in an efficient and fraud proof manner.

guest May 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

I wish I had a government that I trust to make good decisions. That seems so far away………..

@ Mark d May 8, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Do you think we are stupid ? This has EVERYTHING to do with taxes. This is the first step in a series of steps you will take in order to raise taxes. That’s the whole premise. How can the current system be unsustainable? Just raise the current taxes within the current system. How hard is that?

I’ll tell you why…. it’s too simple and it reveals how much we are being raped.

I think the real problem here is that you need smoke and mirrors in order to raise taxes because both sides of the aisle are pissed off about being slaves to the government through confiscatory taxation. You can’t sell a 60% marginal tax rate on it’s face. Instead we have a tax code so complex, we’ve had to create an entire industry just to understand it. (more smoke and mirrors)

The only way to get more money out of us is to trick us and we know it. Otherwise you would just say, “Hey folks, we’re going to tax you 3 bucks a gallon.” Because I know that’s what you want. More. More. More. More. More.

I will NEVER vote for you, or for anyone who is going to raise my taxes any more. Our top marginal tax rate is 60% PLUS taxes when you make purchases, etc. Slaves pay 100%. We’re not going to be slaves. This is tyranny being brought upon us inch by inch Mark. And when you add it all up, you’re going to get another Boston Tea Party. It’s not IF, but WHEN.

Danny May 8, 2014 at 10:39 AM

The problem with these people is that they begin to depend on money they shouldn’t even have the ability to collect.

Just say no May 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Mark, please go away… perhaps to Washington where you will have zero seniority and zero respect. Maybe you could switch parties again, and learn to read Green Eggs & Ham aloud. Do you want to know what is truly “unsustainable”? Your role in government!

. May 8, 2014 at 10:59 AM

A “voluntary pilot”? As proposed by a politician? I’ve NEVER seen a “temporary” tax that didn’t turn into a permanent tax….just like the tolls on bridges.

And using the “minimal” amount of personal information for the study? Again, give me a break.

Once the nose of the camel is under the tent, you’re/we’re screwed.

While the amount of mileage driven makes sense (to some degree), I have no faith in the politicians to (a) keep their word, or (b) spend the money wisely.

Kirkwood May 8, 2014 at 11:20 AM

It looks like many of are trying to “shoot the messenger” rather than trying analyze the proposal. You have no business griping until you can offer a sensible, workable alternative. If you don’t like Mr. D, please propose a replacement which means naming names. Who (specifically) would you like to see in his place?

MdeS May 8, 2014 at 12:09 PM


Where do live and what vehicles do you have?

We’ll be right over to confiscate them as “taxes”.
And you won’t have to worry about motorcarriages or gasoline anymore.

You can leave that up to the grown-ups.

BTW: We’re going to tax every breath you take. You can write it on your taxform; it’ll be right there next to your penalty medical tax.

Concord Mike May 8, 2014 at 12:32 PM


Simple solution. We all benefit from our roads whether we use them or not. Our food, clothes, building materials, etc are delivered on these roads.

Abandon the notion of taxation based on miles of use . Drop the gas tax and pay for road work from the general fund.

Senator DeSauliner once again is on the wrong side of an important issue.

Anonymous May 8, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Dear Kirkwood,
You ask for some alternative to vote for instead of DeSaulnier.
I would vote for the phantom before I voted for DeSaulnier.

No,Strike the last sentence.

Anon May 8, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Show me a detailed accounting of how the money currently collected from the gas tax is spent. Until then the answer is NO.

A Claycordian May 8, 2014 at 3:02 PM


Where, in deductive reasoning, does it require that an alternative be proposed in order to call attention to the erroneous claims of another? I must have missed that class somewhere, because the stupid emanating from Mr. Desaulnier nearly reaches critical mass at times and you need not have an alternate solution at hand in order to make such an observation.

Elwood May 8, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Another inane bloviation from Marky Mark.

He ain’t any brighter than he needs to be.

So Now We're Important ? May 8, 2014 at 3:48 PM

Is this not just “special”, all of a sudden he feels the “need” to inform those he represents about legislation.

Where was his notification prior to his vote to dump tens of thousands of convicted FELONS from State Prisons back down onto all 58 Counties which is causing causing Jail overcrowding? AB-109

Where was his notification prior to his vote for the transgender youth school sports and bathroom bill? AB-1266
An embarrassing bill democrats are now trying to make disappear.

Anyone ever seen a press release saying he was in favor an working hard to reduce State spending and reduce the size of State government?
Can only remember his fondness to creating committees to “study” things.

An is he not the chairman of the transportation committee?
Say, who, was, …. watching CalTrans.

An what did the State do with the money collected from diesel tax?

Vindex May 8, 2014 at 4:54 PM

That he did not condemn this immediately… Has cost him my vote. Haven’t we been taxed enough. Haven’t we lost enough of our privacy already?

Anonymous May 8, 2014 at 5:01 PM

The regular middle class folks that go to work and pay taxes are disenfranchised by DeSaulnier. With him it’s all about contributions and organized labor (like BART union).

When BART went on strike he thought maybe he would cut out our elected Directors by mandating binding arbitration is exchange for the same no strike mandates that most other transportation unions have.

How does that serve us?

DeSaulniers interns are encouraged to respond.

12GAUGE May 8, 2014 at 5:06 PM

I hate this with so much hate

Beacon May 8, 2014 at 5:13 PM

The gas tax seems like a reasonable way to pay for our roads. Small, light cars that tread lightly on the pavement get better gas mileage and don’t pay as much tax per mile. Big, heavy cars and trucks (think Suburban or F250) take up more space on the road and cause much more wear and tear on the asphalt will pay more tax to maintain the road. However, something is broken between the pump and the pavement; all the money collected is not going to the roads. That needs to be addressed before considering complex alternatives.

Roads are vital to our economy and lifestyle. I respect what Senator DeSaulnier is trying to do, but I don’t think a mileage-based tax is feasible.

Just me May 8, 2014 at 5:17 PM

So when we’re paying by the mile and the gas prices are still $5 a gallon then what?

You don’t think the stations and suppliers are going to try to sneak a piece of the 60 cents a gallon we already pay if the tax is removed? Give me a break.

Atticus Thraxx May 8, 2014 at 5:36 PM

“I hate this with so much hate”. That made me smile.

BagsFlyFree May 8, 2014 at 6:00 PM

@ ClayDen spot on… This is CA looking to control the gas tax base before it begins to dry up over time as electrics start taking over. Do what you can to get solar asap. Incentives won’t be around forever; however panel efficiency is getting better, so you may not end up in a bad spot either way..

The Professor May 8, 2014 at 6:09 PM

These freakin’ lib do-gooders.
First they want high mileage cars. Then they want hybrids. Then Electric. And mass transit. All to save the environment and reduce our carbon footprint. Then they realize that the reduced gasoline purchases reduce the taxes collected on the sale of gas. “Oh crap! How can we pay the pensions and high speed rail without that money?” “I know”, says Mark “Let’s come up with an intrusive scheme to tax them a new way!” The Dems might just learn that there are always unintended consequences to their feel good laws.

Next they will try to tax bikes by the mile for using the bicycle lanes. Or tax each step you take. Unreal that these idiots keep winning elections.

MrDioji May 8, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Rabble rabble!!

Oh wait, this is a good idea, since gas tax is unsustainable. Why? Because people are going to continue needing/buying less and less gas.

RunDogRun May 8, 2014 at 6:28 PM

He is the only candidate running
for Miller’s former seat. A write-in
candidate will have to be elected to
defeat him. Anybody have any
suggestions on who might be
interested and qualified to do the
job? Otherwise we are going to
be stuck with him in an even more
powerful position than he has now.

Just me May 8, 2014 at 6:54 PM


Jason Ramey was interisted in congress. Maybe he’d be interisted in this position instead.

Too bad I’ve lost touch with him since highschool

CW May 8, 2014 at 7:14 PM

This is a regressive tax because rich people who can afford to live close to their jobs and drive big gas-guzzling SUV’s would get a break while middle class folks who have to commute long distances from the Claycord area and drive small economy cars or hybrids would have their taxes go up.

Yhe Phantom May 8, 2014 at 9:38 PM

– State Senator Mark DeSaulnier for Congress 2014 – the Good Concord Solution as our leadership voice in Washington.

Elwood May 8, 2014 at 10:47 PM

@ Yhe Phantom #43

You’re enough to gag a maggot.

They really think we're damned stupid May 9, 2014 at 12:08 AM

Well? Are we?

Noflow May 9, 2014 at 12:06 PM

IF the real problem is the electric and hybrid-electric car owners not paying enough of the gas sales tax because they aren’t using as much gas, perhaps the correct answer is to charge those car owners a special use fee with their annual registration. The batteries in the electric and hybrid-electric cars are also more dangerous in a crash, the Fire Departments have had to add special equipment and training to deal with the batteries. I’m thinking that the special use fee would work for that as well….

Mark May 9, 2014 at 9:57 PM

So democrat politicians like the Senator mandate ridiculous emission standards that force us into tin can cars and then when collections from the gas tax – predictably – fall, they want to force another tax on us. The Senator knows this “study” is a precursor to what he and his fellow politicians want – more of our money. They won’t cut spending, no, that’s too hard. So the easy way out is to “study” new taxes that they’ll force down our throats. Do your job Senator, cut the out-of-control spending and stop trying to tax us to death.

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