<137>Brian Baer<137><137><252><137> / The Sacramento Bee

Voter unhappiness at an increase in the state vehicle-license fee fed the recall drive that turned Gov. Gray Davis, above, into a former governor and led to the ascension of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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    Most health insurance plans offered on California’s exchange will now feature quality ratings, giving consumers a better idea about their past performance. Covered California announced Tuesday that it recently incorporated the four-star system in its website. Federal law requires rating plans, but officials here noted the system’s California debut comes two years ahead of the mandate. Executive Director Peter V. Lee said his exchange is among the first to offer consumers a quality-rating system.

    - Christopher Cadelago

The Buzz: Backers put brakes on proposed California car-tax hike

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 - 12:00 am

Backers of ballot measure

to raise car tax end push

Backers of a proposed ballot measure to more than double the vehicle-license fee to pay for road improvements have decided to drop efforts to put it on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The measure would have phased in a 1 percent hike in the license fee to raise from $3 billion to $4 billion annually. The fee has been 0.65 percent of a vehicle’s market value since the late 1990s, with a temporary increase to 1.15 percent from May 2009 through June 2011.

Monday, Will Kempton, the executive director of Transportation California, said his group and its allies “have decided to put our initiative on hold. ... We’ll continue to work with stakeholders, the Legislature, the administration and the public to identify and implement a solution to our transportation infrastructure problems.”

Kempton and other supporters point to a huge backlog of road improvement projects in California, with little new money to pay for them. Past increases have not been popular. In mid-2003, then-Gov. Gray Davis raised the fee to 2 percent, which was what it had been before lawmakers began reducing it in the late 1990s. The increase contributed to his defeat in the recall election that October.

– Jim Miller

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