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  • Golden Gate Bridge directors are considering a $1 toll increase. (CONNER JAY / The Press Democrat)

A $263 million gain

The state Board of Equalization reported recently on sales tax revenue for the first year since Amazon.com and other etailers were required to collect the same levy as brick-and-mortar retailers.

The take: A cumulative $263 million for the state, cities, counties and special districts.

Add to that, thousands of new jobs. Amazon, which had stayed out of California as part of its efforts to avoid collecting sales taxes, opened three distribution centers in the Golden State over the past year. The Seattle-based company recently announced plans for a fourth distribution center and said it plans to spend $500 million on facilities and hire 10,000 people in California by December 2015.

For whom the toll tolls

Drivers are just getting accustomed to the all-electronic toll collection system on the Golden Gate Bridge, and bridge directors are talking about higher tolls for 2015.

The bridge toll is $6 with a $1 discount for Fastrak users. The discount was created as an incentive for drivers to use Fastrak, thereby reducing the slow down at the toll plaza. That no longer seems necessary with all-electronic tolling. Eliminating the discount would raise $16 million without raising tolls, according to the Marin Independent Journal. KTVU, meanwhile, reports that 224,000 people evaded tolls in the first 10 months of 2013 because they had no license plates or had untraceable license plates. There's another source of revenue to tap before raising tolls.

A bag full of rules

Sonoma County and its nine cities all seem to believe that banning plastic grocery bags and charging a nickel for paper bags would reduce litter and reduce the demand for petroleum products. Unfortunately, they were unable to agree on a single ordinance covering the entire county, an approach that apparently would have required some adjustments to the charter for an obscure agency responsible for recycling.

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