The Coalition to Protect Our Freedom to Drive is comprised of area Chambers of Commerce, business associations, boards of trade, the national and state associations for independent auto dealers, state and local elected representatives, motorists and other involved citizens.
The group claims the proposed consumer protection bills ( AB 1447, AB 1534 and SB 956) will deny thousands of low-income and credit-challenged Californians the freedom to own a vehicle, damage thousands of California jobs and businesses and severely deplete revenues to local government.
The following is a news release issued by the Coalition to Protect Our Freedom to Drive:
The statewide Coalition to Protect Our Freedom to Drive [on June 6] launched an informational campaign to oppose passage of Senate Bill 956 and Assembly bills 1534 and 1447, which coalition research found will cut off many Californians from being able to finance personal transportation.
In studying what they characterized as extreme provisions in the bills introduced in January, dealers in pre-owned automobiles discovered that they would be required to lose money on every transaction covered by the legislation. In some cases dealers said they would go out of business and in other instances dealers said they would no longer be able to finance buyers with less than perfect credit.
A Protect Our Freedom to Drive investigation found the used car market will be so severely disrupted by proposed rules that the inevitable drop in dealer sales will cut deeply into the $468 million in sales tax revenue the State Board of Equalization reported for calendar year 2011.
The Coalition to Protect Our Freedom to Drive projects that state, county and city government budgets will suffer combined annual losses in used car sales tax revenue ranging between $234 million and $374 million. That conservative estimate does not include separate declines in the state Vehicle License Fee and assorted other fees collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
According to the League of California Cities, sales and use taxes represent the first or second largest source of general fund revenue for cities statewide. And three cities out of five rely heavily on sales and use taxes from their unrestricted general funds to pay for police and firefighters.
The Coalition pointed out that not one of the three bills was properly analyzed for economic and budgetary consequences in the Appropriations Committee in either the Senate or Assembly.
California’s more than 9,000 dealers in pre-owned automobiles are already among the state’s more heavily regulated businesses, and the Coalition found that state regulators report consumer complaints represent under 1 percent of used car sales.
A spokeswoman for the Coalition to Protect Our Freedom to Drive said in a news release: “These three bills, if passed and signed by Governor Brown, will bring harm to the very people the bills purport to help. This legislation will also substantially reduce sales tax revenue for public safety in our cities and counties at the worst possible time, and also worsen our state’s $16 billion budget deficit.
“We are calling on all common-sense Californians to join with us in telling the authors and supporters of these bills to pull back from the brink of this pending legislative disaster. The consequences will deny tens of thousands of California even the choice of car ownership to get to work and to care for their families’ transportation needs. “
SB 956, authored by State Senator Ted Lieu, D-Redondo Beach, has passed the Senate and is now in the Assembly. AB 1534, by Assembly Member Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, is now in the Senate, along with AB 1447, authored by Assembly member Mike Feuer, D-West Hollywood.