Californians Discuss Gas Tax-Repeal Initiative Ahead of November Vote

California voters will soon have an opportunity to decide whether to roll back a year-old gasoline-tax increase that opponents say will eliminate billions of dollars of funding to repair roads and other infrastructure.

Proposition 6 will appear on the November ballot, and if it passes, it will eliminate transportation funding bill SB1, passed in April 2017,and remove the additional gas tax added to the state with the second highest gas prices in the country.

The significant gas increase was unpopular among conservatives and other critics of California’s high taxes, many of whom believe the state may be wasting the resources it already has.

“The waste and abuse of taxpayer funds in state and local transportation agencies is staggering,” said Carl DeMaio, chairman of Yes on Prop. 6, in a statement.

SB1 Will Collect $52 Billion in 10 Years

The Road and Repair Accountability Act, also known as SB1, is expected to collect $52 billion in taxes over 10 years, including car and gas taxes, forcing residents to pay an additional 12 cents per gallon on gasoline purchases and 20 cents per gallon on diesel.

The collected tax is earmarked to be used to repair roads, fix bridges, build public transit systems, and other transportation needs.

Eric Garcetti is against prop. 6
Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti held a press conference asking people not to veto SB1 near LAX, on Oct. 3. (Mandy Huang/The Epoch Times)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a Democrat, hosted a press conference near the Los Angeles International Airport on Oct. 3 to show support for SB1, close to a location where a new light rail station is being built.

“We’re on the cusp of finally connecting LAX to rail. Prop 6 would undo those plans,” said Garcetti.

Garcetti and other supporters said the money from SB1 is needed to reduce the number of accidents on the road, as well as vehicle repair costs. They asked the public to vote no on Prop. 6.

Raising Taxes May Not Be the Solution

Konstantinos Roditis, a Republican who is running for California controller, attended Garcetti’s press conference to learn more information about the debate, and he said he felt disappointed. He believes SB1 unfairly targets people with lower incomes, and in the past, the California government has been known to use such tax revenue for other purposes.

Konstantinos Roditis is against SB1
California Controller candidate Konstantinos Roditis attended the press conference but felt disappointed near LAX on Oct. 3. (Mandy Huang/The Epoch Times)

“On average, SB1 is going to cost a family of four $779.28 per year. That’s a lot of money and a conservative number. But when we look at how we use our tax money prior to [the] SB1 increase, only 20 percent of the tax increase was going toward road repair,” Roditis said.

He also said that if Californians don’t put a stop to SB1, the tax will keep on rising, because the law links the gas tax with the consumer price index in the future.

Taxes from SB1 Fund Additional Expenses

According to the text of the bill, the money from SB1 will go toward other expenses, including funding for transportation research at the University of California and the California State University, pre-apprenticeship training programs, parks programs, boating programs, agricultural programs, and climate change adaptation planning.

It also allows for “research, planning, construction, improvement, maintenance, and operation of public transportation systems,” which could possibly include California’s high-speed rail project.

Many people have criticized the ever-increasing cost and lack of progress on the high-speed rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In fact, this is one of the projects Roditis says he will halt if elected in November.

The California High-Speed Rail Peer Review Group, an oversight board, reported that there is no evidence to show that high-speed rail will help reduce traffic problems, in a March letter to state legislative leaders.

“The Authority asserts that high-speed rail will contribute to the alleviation of that problem, even though the plan makes no commitment to initiate service in the coming decades in Southern California and provides no analysis to show the contribution that high-speed rail or mass transit will make in future,” the letter states.

A report from the Reason Foundation also found that the California government gets less for its transportation money than the rest of the country, paying 470 percent more to maintain a mile of highway compared to other states.

“I think it’s unconscionable what they are doing. This is unions and big businesses looking at this seeing the billions of dollars they can basically put into their pockets from the poor and working class,” Roditis said.

From The Epoch Times