On Monday, a ballot measure to repeal California’s recently enacted gas taxes and registration fees officially qualified for the November ballot. Gov. Jerry Brown said the following in a statement shortly after the Secretary of State’s Office announced the measure had qualified for the ballot,
I will do everything in my power to defeat any repeal effort. You can count on that.
This now sets the stage for a statewide battle over how to pay for an estimated $67 billion backlog in repairs for highways, bridges, and roads. According to a recent USC and Los Angeles Times poll, the taxes and fees have strong support in the Bay Area where 72 percent of likely voters said they would keep the tax because many workers there commute longer distances through heavy traffic. However, the poll found that support is weak almost everywhere else in the state. Only 38 percent of Los Angeles-area voters, 30 percent of Central Valley voters, and 29 percent of voters elsewhere in Southern California support the gas tax. Opponents of the gas tax believe the state has poorly managed the transportation money it already has. However, proponents state that the last time the gas tax was raised was in 1994, when the tax increased from 9 cents to 18 cents, which they believe is due for an increase.
Senate Bill 1, also known as the gas tax, was approved by the legislature and signed into law last year and went into effect in November. It raised the tax on gasoline by 12 cents per gallon and increased the tax on diesel by 20 cents per gallon. It also imposed a $100 registration fee for zero-emission vehicles, which will go into effect in 2020, and it raised registration fees this year by $25 to $175, depending on the value of the vehicle. The taxes and fees are expected to generate roughly $54 billion over the next 10 years. According to the California Transportation Commission, over 5,000 state and local transportation projects are underway using money generated from the new taxes and fees. We will have to wait and see if the ballot measure passes or fails this November.