A proposal for a second ballot measure to repeal a new 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax was filed with the state Sept. 14, with backers boasting they have 200,000 Californians pledged to sign the petition to qualify the initiative for the November 2018 election.
The gas tax — with an accompanying vehicle registration fee of about $50 for the average car — was approved by the state Legislature earlier this year to raise 52 billion for transportation improvements over the next decade. The new gas tax begins this Nov. 1. Currently, the state’s gas tax is 38 cents per gallon, seventh highest in the nation, according to Politifact.com.
“Sacramento politicians really crossed the line with these massive car and gas tax hikes and we intend to give taxpayers the chance to reverse that decision with this initiative,” said talk radio host and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, whose Reform California group is part of a coalition behind the effort. DeMaio is also heading a drive to recall state Sen. Josh Newman, (D-Fullerton), for voting in favor of the tax hike.
Senate Bill 1, which includes the tax increase, says Californians are paying $17 billion annually — more than $700 per driver — is extra car maintenance bills because of bad roads. But a May poll by UC Berkeley found that opponents of the transportation improvement package and accompanying taxes outnumber supporters, 58% to 35%.
Assemblyman Travis Allen, (R-Huntington Beach), has already received state approval to collect signatures for a similar ballot measure to roll back the new gas tax hike. However, he has put the petition circulation process on hold while he sues over the over the title given to the proposal by Attorney General Xavier Becerra. That title does not mention “gas tax” or “repeal,” which Allen believes should be clearly stated. A Sacramento hearing is scheduled for Sept. 22.
DeMaio says he’s part of coalition with a broader base than Allen, who’s made his ballot measure a key part of a dark-horse bid for governor.
“He’s been invited to join us several times,” DeMaio said. “I think folks should be focused on results and not advancing an effort for higher office.”
Allen said that his ballot measure is farther along in the process and noted that the new proposal would require many more signatures than his to qualify for the ballot.
Allen’s measure would be statutory law requiring 360,000 valid voter signatures while DeMaio’s would be a constitutional amendment requiring 585,000 signatures. Allen’s could be subject to tinkering by the Legislature, according to DeMaio, while constitutional amendments cannot be changed without voter approval.
Additionally, DeMaio’s measure would prevent any future increases of motor vehicle and gas taxes without voter approval.
“He has a long way to go,” Allen said of DeMaio’s effort. “But the more people we have working to reduce the tax burden on Californians, the better.”