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Politicos talk of gas tax, but will public support it?

By dcuff
Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 8:41 am in driving, Freeways.

Talk of a gas tax is getting more attention as our roads and public transit systems struggle  from money shortages, but it remains a risky proposition for politicians to consider a tax hike for a basic commodity in a recession.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Meet the Press Sunday he thinks we should consider raising the 18.4 cents a gallon federal gas tax to pay for projects to help revive the economy.

But wait a minute. Isn’t this the same governor who recently signed a California budget deal that squashed Democratic legislators’ plan to add 10 cents a gallon to the state’s 18-cents a gallon sate gas tax.  Isn’t it easier for ask another branch of government to raise taxes and take the heat from taxpayers?

The state, like the feds, hasn’t raised its gas tax of 18 cents per gallon since the early 1990s.

Still, with roads and transit suffering, some people will give the governor credit for thinking outside the box. Arnold has made a career of being willing to tread in the no man’s land between Democrats and Republicans in California politics.

Speaking of taxes, a story I did Sunday about support for a federal mileage tax picking up steam in Congress evoked a similar message from several readers who called or wrote in to oppose it. One reader wanted to know the phone numbers of the “crazy” elected officials who supported a mileage tax. 

For the record, I was unable to get phone messages returned from three East Bay members of Congress to ask their opinion about a mileage tax. I’m not surprised. Talking about raising or changing taxes can get people mad at you.    

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