California gas tax opponents get go signal to petition repeal

Nov. 22, 2017

The 12-cents-per-gallon increase is expected to generate hundreds of millions for road infrastructure

Nobody loves a tax increase—even if it’s the most direct means to making improvements. Such is the case for a small contingent in the state of California, which, along with other West Coast states such as Oregon and Washington, recently passed a gasoline tax increase aimed at boost revenue for road and bridge work.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the proposed state constitutional amendment, which would also require future gas taxes to be approved by the voters, was given a title and summary Monday by the state attorney general’s office, allowing opponents of the fuel levies to begin a drive that needs to collect 587,407 signatures of registered voters.

Republicans are looking to make the gas tax increase a hot-button issue in the upcoming 2018 election for the Democrat-controlled legislature that approved the hikes.

The main part of the title says the ballot measure “eliminates recently enacted road repair and transportation funding by repealing revenues dedicated for those purposes.”

The campaign will start signature collection “immediately” while reserving the right to go to court later to get a better title and summary for the actual ballot measure.

Supporters of the gas-tax increase say they are prepared to spend up to $40 million to defeat any ballot measure because decades of neglect have left California with a crumbling, potholed road system and inadequate mass transit.

The campaign against repeal is being led by the Fix Our Roads coalition of business and civic groups, including the League of California Cities and the California Chamber of Commerce.

In April, Gov. Brown signed legislation that will provide $5.2 billion annually for the first 10 years and more in later years to attack a $130-billion backlog of needed road and bridge repairs. The 12-cent-per-gallon increase in the state excise tax on gasoline and a 20-cents-per-gallon boost to the diesel tax took effect Nov. 1.