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Crude PoliticsThe California Oil Market, 1900-1940$
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Paul Sabin and Philip Rousseau

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520241985

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520241985.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 26 July 2021

“Transportation by Taxation”

“Transportation by Taxation”

(p.158) (p.159) CHAPTER 7 “Transportation by Taxation”
Crude Politics

Paul Sabin

University of California Press

This chapter concentrates on transportation finance. The enormous energy demands of the motor vehicle revolution prompts the central question of this chapter: Why did highways replace mass transit so completely and so rapidly in California? California imposed two gasoline taxes and increased motor vehicle registration and license fees in the 1920s. The gasoline tax and motor vehicle fees supported a wide-ranging governmental enterprise that, after education, constituted the largest single expense in the California budget during the late 1920s and the 1930s. The political impact of California's new financing program equaled the financial benefit of eliminating interest on bonds and enabling long-term financial planning. As with railroads in the nineteenth century, government assistance developed the highway network in ways that private capital never would have supported. Federal, state, and local governments directly subsidized highway expansion and granted generous tax exemptions to the “public” roads.

Keywords:   transportation finance, taxation, highways, California, gasoline taxes, motor vehicle fees, license fees, railroads

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