California enacts $52 billion fuel tax hike for road, bridge repairs


LOS ANGELES, April 28 (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Friday a bill to raise gasoline taxes and other transportation-related fees for the first time in decades in an ambitious $52 billion plan to repair the state's long-neglected roads and bridges.

The measure, increasing excise taxes on gasoline by 12 cents per gallon, from the current rate of $0.28 a gallon, and on diesel fuel by 20 cents per gallon over the next 10 years, goes into effect in November.

It cleared the state legislature three weeks ago, on the strength of a two-thirds super-majority the Democrats wield in both houses that allows them to pass new taxes with little or no Republican support.

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Best and worst states for retirement
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Best and worst states for retirement

1. Florida 

You knew it had to be high on the list, didn't you? In terms of affordability, Florida topped the list while it placed fifth in terms of quality of life, overcoming its 20th-ranked healthcare rating.

2. Colorado

Ranked second in healthcare while quality of life came in 8th place, Colorado is constrained by its 23rd-place ranking in affordability.

3. South Dakota

The home of Mount Rushmore is the second most affordable state and ranked sixth when it came to healthcare, but can't break the top half in quality of life (ranked 32nd).

4. Iowa

Not typically thought of as a retirement destination, Iowa has decent rankings across the board (9th in healthcare, 11th in quality of life and 26th in affordability).​​​​​​​

5. Virginia

Quality of life ranks well in Virginia (9th) while affordability and healthcare rankings are above average (18th and 21st respectively).

The next five desirable retirement states are, in order:

Wyoming

New Hampshire

Idaho

Utah

Arizona

46. Arkansas

Dead last in quality of life and 45th in healthcare, Arkansas is pulled up by its 20th-place showing in affordability.​​​​​​​

47. Mississippi

The same principle applies to Mississippi, but even more so. The state is 49th in quality of life and last in healthcare, but it ranks 10th in affordability.

48. Rhode Island

Healthcare is above average (22nd), but quality of life and affordability are poor at 46th and 48th place, respectively.

49. New Jersey

The least affordable state in the union also has below average rankings in quality of life (28th) and healthcare (33rd).​​​​​​​

50. Kentucky

Kentucky ranks 47th in both quality of life and healthcare and only 38th in affordability, earning the Bluegrass State WalletHub's least desirable retirement state ranking for 2018.​​​​​​​

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Republicans condemned the increases, saying the state's transportation taxes and fees are already among the highest in the nation. They call the newly enacted measure the largest gasoline tax in California's history.

The average motorist in California, a state renowned for its car culture, will see transportation costs rise by about $10 a month under the measure, according to Brown, a Democrat who has governed largely as a fiscal moderate.

He has refused to back any transportation overall plans that involved borrowing money.

Supporters say the measure is needed to address a mounting backlog of crumbling infrastructure projects, including more than 500 bridges statewide requiring major repair, most of them considered structurally deficient.

The fuel tax increases, together with higher vehicle licensing fees and a new $100 annual fee on owners of electric-only vehicles, would raise $5.2 billion a year, all earmarked for road, highway and bridge repairs and anti-congestion projects.

To address concerns that those revenues might end up diverted elsewhere in the budget, the bill calls for a state constitutional amendment, to be placed on the June 2018 ballot, that would prohibit use of the funds for anything but transportation. (Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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