LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Goes All-In to Stop Gas Tax Repeal

Eric Garcetti (Jordan Strauss / Associated Press)
Jordan Strauss / Associated Press

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was forced to go all-in starting Wednesday to oppose gas tax repeal on the November ballot that would save the average family $779 a year.

When Eric Garcetti succeeded Antonio Villaraigosa as Mayor of America’s second largest city in 2013, he was called a “Boy Scout” by the LA Weekly. Garcetti has worked hard to craft an image of being a frugal people’s mayor by giving up the limos, gala balls and $500 bottles of wine that his predecessor was famous for.

CNN reported in April that after Garcetti racked up an economic revival record in one of America’s most diverse and liberal city, his exploratory 2020 presidential campaign was meeting with Democrats in the early primary states of Iowa and South Carolina.

But with the ‘Yes on Prop 6’ campaign to overturn the gas tax having raised over $2 million mostly from small donors since January and launching sustained radio and online advertising campaigns, Garcetti is being forced to actively campaign for a tax that hammers the working and middle-class voters he has politically depended on.

Garcetti was the key speaker on Wednesday at a press conference adjacent to a LAX rail station in Westchester that received $150 million from the gas tax. The Mayor who drives tried to justify the painful tax by claiming “I’d rather pay a few pennies at a pump than pay lots of dollars at my mechanic,” according to the LA Times.

The Mayor was surrounded by hundreds of construction and city maintenance workers on Thursday as he rallied with the Region Governor of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Garcetti argued that 6,000 transportation infrastructure projects across the state would have to be delayed if the gas tax is repealed. Garcetti said: “If we see this repealed, we will pay — make no mistake. We’ll pay in lives, we’ll pay in dollars, we’ll pay in broken axles, we’ll pay in popped tires, we’ll pay during earthquakes.”

But preserving the gas tax that will raise about $5.4 billion a year for the next decade may require a hard sell to the public that is painfully aware of the additional 12 cents per gallon on gasoline, 20 cents per gallon on diesel, and up to $175 in annual car licenses fees. Californians now paying 95.5 cents per gallon in taxes and fees, or an average of about $17 per fill-up.

Although Garcetti is trying to paint the gas tax as a local pro-jobs program to improve roads and bridges, huge amounts of gas tax cash are going to the type of expensive light rail projects liberal Democrats embrace, such as the $581-million metro station at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard to connect the Crenshaw and Green lines.

Of the ‘No on Prop 6’ campaigns $30,664,794 in fundraising, 8 donors have given checks of $1 million or more and about $4.5 million has come from out of state interests, according to the September 22 campaign disclosure.

California Reform leader Carl De Maio on Wednesday filed complaints and evidence with the District Attorney offices of San Francisco and Sacramento counties, and the US Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General. De Maio alleged that state and local government officials are using taxpayer funds to illegally target vulnerable Republican members of Congress who have backed the Prop 6. .

The latest claims of misuse of taxpayer funds in a political campaign come just weeks after a criminal complaint was filed against Caltrans for openly using contracted transportation workers in San Diego to openly campaign against Prop 6 by stopping traffic to hand out ‘No on Prop 6’ brochures.

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