License to (be) Ill

img_1523I just received a registration renewal notice for my six year-old car, and the fee jumped from $216 last year to $306 this year. That’s nearly a 42 percent increase for a car that is of lesser value than last year.  Most of the total fee ($220) is comprised of the “license fee.” So this is what trying to fix a budget deficit looks like.

At the same time, Los Angeles leads the nation with the worst roads of any urban area, which add a whopping $746 per year in extra costs for each Los Angeles metropolitan area motorist.

Isn’t this a bit like being tortured and then receiving a bill for a blindfold, a waterboard, and increased water usage?

7 Replies to “License to (be) Ill”

  1. The Prop 13 fall-out continues. The money has got to come from somewhere– increased garbage pick-up and vehicle “fees,” for example. And then there are the newly announced cuts to summer education programs in LA. Direct democracy just doesn’t work.

  2. I love how when Obama, at his inauguration, told everybody we had to make some sacrifices to make things right again, we all clapped and cheered. But now that it’s time to make a sacrifice – ANY sacrifice – we’re all kicking and screaming. Parks closed! Laid off teachers! Increased vehicle registration that should have gone into effect a few years back, only Arnie quashed the idea, which helped dig the state’s current hole! WAHHH!

    It’s too bad for Prop 13’s draconian “2/3rds vote required to raise taxes” bit, because we should really just pay more taxes. Vehicle registration is at least a fairly reasonable facsimile of that. Meanwhile, maybe we should reinstate the Snack Tax.

  3. What a co-inky-dink. I *just* paid my renewal: Last year: $63. This year: $82 (This is a 16-year-old car!) 30.6% increase.

  4. Forcor mixes a bunch of issues that would take more than a comment to reply to, but I’ll address a few:

    1. I have no idea what this has to do with President Obama. This is a California budget problem that goes back at least to 1978, when Barack Obama was 17.

    2. Equating criticism of the magnitude of this license fee increase with opposition to “ANY sacrifice” is the old straw man trick. No one has argued here that there should be no “sacrifice” or no fee increases of any kind to fix California’s budget.

    3. Rather, the issue is the large degree to which the attempt to close California’s budget gap seems to have been levied in one area — the license fee increase. This is especially pernicious because, as Forcor correctly points out, California politicians do not want to make the harder choice of raising some taxes *a little* as part of an overall budget fix. The aversion to the word “tax” is so absurdly high, that, as Forcor points out, we have a near-impossible 2/3 requirement to increase taxes. But guess what? A “fee” is money you pay to a level of government. So is a tax. When the “fee” falls on so many people in the state, as is the case with the license fee, it is effectively identical to a tax. The steep California license fee increase is nothing but a sneaky tax increase without having to use the word “tax.” Is it not absurd that it is easier to change our Constitution than to increase taxes?

    4. I guess I’m a “do things in moderation” guy. I’m not sure if reinstituting snack taxes or simply raising taxes (which provides no incentive to control spending) is the answer, but I would like to see a wide range of proposals, such as raising car license and other fees *a little*, cutting spending across the board *a little*, cutting the state workforce *a little* through attrition (i.e., not filling some state employee slots when people retire or move to the private sector), and, if necessary, more drastic steps such as raising some taxes *a little* or cutting back operating hours of some facilities *a little*. But weighting the budget fix so heavily on car license fees which, since they apply so broadly, are really taxes without using the word, represents the worst and most cowardly of politics, and that’s why I have such a problem.

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