An effort to repeal California’s new gas tax repeal has collected three quarters of the required signatures, and has 30 days to gather the last 200,000 to place an initiative on the November ballot.
The Reject The Gas Tax referendum, sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, has received substantial bipartisan voter support towards gathering the 587,407 California signatures from valid registered voters that are legally required to place an initiative on the ballot.
California’s Democrat-controlled legislature claimed that “The Road Repair and Accountability Act” of 2017 (SB-1), which they passed almost a year ago, would provide $5 billion per year to address significant funding shortfalls to maintain the state’s multimodal transportation network as the “backbone of the economy and critical to quality of life.”
But advocates of the gas tax were silent on how the regressive measure would hammer middle-income and lower-income families. The average California family of four is now paying about $300 more per year in gas taxes and fees and will pay about $400 more in 2019, along with an additional $50 in gas taxes for each year thereafter.
Progressives understand that after California Gov. Grey Davis increased car registration fees in 2003 by a similar $263 per year, voters retaliated by recalling the Democrat governor and sweeping Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger into office.
The latest non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) Statewide Survey poll reveals that 61 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of Independents, and 39 percent of Democrats favor repealing the gas tax. Given a big pro-repeal advertising blitz in the fall, Californians interested in dumping the tax will be motivated to show up to vote their economic interest.
Over 80 percent of California communities favor dumping the gas tax, including 67 percent of the Inland Empire; 63 percent of the Central Valley; 58 percent of the Los Angeles Basin; and 58 percent of Orange County/San Diego. The only major support for the regressive tax comes from the San Francisco Bay Area, where 52 percent favor keeping the tax.
Voters were told that the SB-1 gas tax would provide funds to repair state and local roads, bridges, and highways. But an estimated $750 million of SB-1 cash is being siphoned off each year for public transportation projects and operating expenses. Almost half of that cash is being steered toward funding California’s infamous high-speed rail train service.
Breitbart News reported on March 9 that the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s new chief program officer, Roy Hill, had issued a 114-page “2018 Draft Budget” with a new “Base Case” cost to build the 500-mile bullet train that had more than doubled to $77.3 billion, or $155 million per mile. But Hill also warned that the “High Case” cost estimate for the so-called bullet train could triple to $98.1 billion, or $196 million per mile.