Propositioned: Prop 6: Gas Tax Repeal Fight Reaches the Ballot Box


Proposition 6: The gas tax repeal fight reaches the ballot box

In today's episode of Propositioned, KFI's Kris Ankarlo takes a look at both sides of Prop 6, a ballot measure intended to repeal the SB 1 gas tax passed by the legislature late last year. 

If passed, Prop 6 would repeal the fuel and vehicle taxes recently passed by the legislature. It would also require any new taxes to be passed by a majority of voters to approve any new or increased fuel and vehicle taxes in the future. 

If Prop 6 fails, the SB 1 fuel and vehicle taxes will remain and pay for needed highway and road maintenance and repair. Take a listen to both sides of the issue in the latest episode of Propositioned!

Infrastructure and road repair at risk if prop 6 repealed

Last year, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act by a two-thirds majority vote, raising the state gas tax by 12 cents, and the vehicle registration tax on motorists across California. 

The law raises about $5.2 bill per year, with 65% of it designated for road and bridge repairs across the state, another 20% set aside for improving mass transit, and the rest dispersed to various other projects like better truck access around ports and bicycle and pedestrian lanes. A ballot measure passed in June put the revenue in a 'lockbox', dedicating that revenue solely for transportation projects, and preventing the use of the funds for the bullet train bonds. 

Carl DeMaio, the founder of Reform California who led the effort to place Prop. 6 on the ballot, says voters are frustrated by lawmakers in Sacramento. 

"What motivates us is our frustration, that the roads have not been properly maintained, and we know we already pay enough money to have good roads. We're pissed off, there's no sugar-coating it," DeMaio said.

And there's energy there to prove that. During the June primary, voters recalled state Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) after a campaign by Prop. 6 leader Carl DeMaio that focused on legislators who voted for the gas tax increase. 

According to numbers from Reform California, the increase is costing the average two-car family $650 a year, and up to $800 per year for a lower-income family who may have a longer commute. 

However, opponents to Prop 6 like Kiana Valentine with the California State Association of Counties, say she's skeptical of the numbers being put out by the Reform California campaign. 

"I can't make that number work. The Department of Finance estimated the average cost of SB 1 to be about $120 a year per motorist," said Valentine. 

Opponents also point out that the state gas taxes haven't kept pace with inflation. The federal gas tax was last raised in 1993 and that hasn't kept pace with California's explosive population growth over the last 25 years. 

"Inflation, gains in fuel efficiency, population growth, all of these things reduce the purchasing power of our existing revenues by over 50 percent," Valentine says.  

Opponents also say Prop. 6 would cost consumers even more in the long run due to bad roads in California imposing a 'hidden tax' on drivers. Poorly maintained roads can add repairs and things done to our vehicles that people don't necessarily see. 

Here's the official language on the ballot for Proposition 6:

Repeals a 2017 transportation law's taxes and fees designated for road repairs and public transportation. Fiscal Impact: Reduced ongoing revenues of $5.1 billion from state fuel and vehicle taxes that mainly would have paid for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs.

Here's what a YES vote means: 

A YES vote on this measure means: Fuel and vehicle taxes recently passed by the Legislature would be eliminated, which would reduce funding for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs. The Legislature would be required to get a majority of voters to approve new or increased state fuel and vehicle taxes in the future.

Here's what a NO vote means: 

A NO vote on this measure means: Fuel and vehicle taxes recently passed by the Legislature would continue to be in effect and pay for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs. The Legislature would continue not to need voter approval for new or increased state fuel and vehicle taxes in the future.

Here are the groups who support Prop 6:

Speaker of the U.S. House Paul Ryan (R-1, Wisconsin), U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-22), Gubernatorial Candidate John Cox (R), California Republican Party, Ventura County Republican Party, National Federation of Independent Businesses

Here are the groups opposed to Prop 6:

Gov. Jerry Brown (D), Sen. Bill Dodd (D-3), Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), Los Angeles, Mayor Robert Moon (D), Palm Springs, California Democratic Party, California Chamber of Commerce, Rebuild California Committee

Photos: Getty Images


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