Loaded Subject: Greg Dubuque at Liberty Linehaul West in Montebello.

Loaded Subject: Greg Dubuque at Liberty Linehaul West in Montebello. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

It’s not every day that a business owner backs a tax hike that could cost his company upward of $100,000 a year, but that’s precisely what Montebello truck fleet owner Greg Dubuque is willing to do if it means fixing the state’s crumbling roads and highways.

The 42-year-old president and co-owner of Liberty Linehaul West Inc. said he supports an increase of 11 cents a gallon in the excise tax on diesel fuel that Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed as part of a massive transportation finance package.

“I’m not big on raising the excise tax because of cash-flow issues, but something has to give,” said Dubuque, whose company operates a fleet of about 45 trucks that run delivery routes in California and to several Canadian cities. “Highways are our lifeblood, and we rely on the condition of our asphalt. So, I’m in support of a tax increase, as long as I can see the results.”

The tax also has the support of the California Trucking Association, which notes that poorly maintained roads and congestion can cost the industry billions of dollars a year.

For Dubuque, that has meant paying more than $30,000 annually to repair his trucks’ tires and suspension systems damaged by California roadways, he said, in addition to having to bring in extra trucks and drivers to ensure timely deliveries on increasingly congested roads and highways.

To fix that, Brown wants to raise the diesel fuel tax to 27 cents a gallon, but his is only one of several proposals circulating in the state Legislature as part of a massive package to fund transportation projects.

The governor’s plan would raise roughly $400 million a year through the diesel tax. He also wants to raise the gasoline excise tax paid by motorists by 7 cents a gallon to 34.5 cents a gallon, which would raise about $1.1 billion a year.

Two other proposals wending their way through the Legislature would go even higher. The bills are likely to be merged and then negotiations must take place with Brown over the final package.

Rough roads

All of the money raised through these fuel tax hikes would go toward filling a massive need for repairs and maintenance to the state’s roads, highways, and bridges.

An assessment of the repair and maintenance costs presented last year to the California Transportation Commission by the League of California Cities and various local government agencies put the total statewide price tag at nearly $107 billion, with current funding only able to meet about one-third of that cost. Los Angeles County’s price tag is “greater than $4 billion,” according to the report.

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