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Toni Atkins Proposes Annual $52 Fee For Road Repairs

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Associated Press

This file photo from October 2010 shows CalTrans, left, working along the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles.

Most California drivers would pay an extra $52 a year under Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins' proposal to raise $2 billion a year to fix the state's crumbling roads, bridges and highways.

Atkins, who proposed the idea on Wednesday, didn't spell out how the money would be collected, but she said the fee of a dollar a week could be charged as part of insurance plans and vehicle registration.

The fees could be higher for trucks and for electric vehicle drivers that don't pay gas taxes.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, is seen in an undated photo.

The San Diego Democrat's plan responds to a call by Gov. Jerry Brown for the Legislature to tackle a $59 billion backlog in infrastructure repairs.

The shortfall is driven in part by declining gasoline tax revenues as more fuel-efficient cars hit roads that continue to age and deteriorate.

The state has been looking beyond the gas pump to raise money. One option under review is charging drivers by miles traveled instead of fuel guzzled, but that would take at least five years to implement.

Atkins told an audience at the California Transportation Foundation's annual summit that lawmakers can't wait that long to reinvest in infrastructure.

A California Department of Transportation review found 16 percent of the state's roads were in poor condition in 2013. That's already impacting driver's wallets, Atkins said.

"If you take someone who is working poor or poor and they are driving on deficient road, they are going to have a higher maintenance bill," she told reporters.

The proposal would need Republican support because a two-thirds vote of the Legislature is required to pass new fees. Amanda Fulkerson, a spokeswoman for the Assembly GOP caucus, did not immediately comment on Atkins' plan.

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