Sweet Deal for Gas Hogs

California Assembly votes down bill that would have eliminated $25,000 tax incentive on SUVs; this is on top of the $100,000 federal incentive.

Published: 02-Feb-2004

lass=storydetail align=left>When it comes to showing favor for their friends, few are more adept than our lawmakers in Sacramento.

Case in point: The Assembly voted down a bill the other day that would have eliminated a $40-million-a-year tax break for business operators who like to drive big SUVs. The bill would have killed a $25,000-per-vehicle tax incentive, and shifted part of it to people who buy more fuel-efficient electric, hybrid and alternative-fuel cars.

The bill's opponents characterized it as a form of "social engineering" that would have dictated to Californians what kinds of cars to drive. In fact, it would simply have removed a sweetheart deal for many of the Legislature's biggest campaign contributors.

We're not talking about farmers, construction workers and other businesses that need the bigger vehicles; they would have kept their tax breaks under the bill. The targets would have included celebrity agents, real estate sales people and political consultants who have clamored onto the sports utility bandwagon in recent years.

In just so happens that nearly half of the Assembly members drive vehicles big enough to be eligible for the tax breaks - if they were in business for themselves. And those are vehicles for which taxpayers pay the monthly freight, up to the allowable limit of $350.

What this means is that a Hollywood agent can buy a $50,000 Hummer and, including state and federal tax breaks, write off the vehicle's entire cost. Now that's social engineering.

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