California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2024 budget includes a 300% boat registration fee increase, and BoatUS and the nonprofit Recreational Boaters of California are asking boat owners in the state to voice their concerns about the rate hike.
“Most citizens can understand, over time, the need for modest increases in government fee structures,” David Kennedy, BoatUS manager of government relations, said in a statement. “However, BoatUS and RBOC do not believe such a significant increase is justified by the administration. We are asking the state’s boat owners to reach out to their state legislators to request they reject this proposal and engage with boating stakeholders to develop realistic boat registration fees that are dedicated to boating programs.”
The two groups and other stakeholders have been engaged in a two-year process to review California’s boating programs. A modest increase had been anticipated, but there was hope that the state would recognize the financial contribution boaters already make, including $107 million in annual motor fuel taxes.
According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the average California boat owner has an annual income of less than $70,000.
BoatUS and RBOC are also concerned that the additional funds collected would not go to boating programs and services, such as education, operator certification, safety and enforcement.