California Gas Tax Initiative Fails but Another Gains Steam

Work is being done to collect enough signatures for another initiative that would repeal last year's hike in gas taxes.

Work is being done to collect enough signatures for another initiative that would repeal last year's hike in gas taxes. (Getty Images)

A Republican candidate for governor has failed to collect enough signatures for his proposed ballot initiative to eliminate last year’s increase in the gas tax, but he said Friday he’s backing another repeal measure instead.

Assemblyman Travis Allen blamed legal wrangling over the initiative’s official title and summary, which he said prevented him from collecting signatures ahead of a deadline this week.

Allen challenged the ballot summary written by Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra, which centered on losing revenue rather than repealing the tax. A Sacramento County judge agreed Becerra’s description was biased, but the Court of Appeal overturned the decision.

“Unfortunately, the attorney general, through his political maneuvering, was able to stall the repeal of the gas tax and put us in a legal catch-22 that ran down the clock for our signature gathering,” Allen said.

Allen said he’ll work on collecting signatures for another initiative that would repeal last year’s hike in gas taxes and vehicle registration fees while requiring voter approval for any future increase. The measure is backed by several Republican members of Congress and San Diego businessman John Cox, one of Allen’s main GOP rivals for governor.

Organizers of that initiative said Friday they’ve collected 400,000 of the 585,407 signatures needed by May 21.

The fight over the gas tax is central to the GOP’s 2018 election strategy in a state where fierce opposition to Republican President Donald Trump could drive Democrats to the polls. Republicans hope that the opposition to the tax increase will encourage conservatives to vote in large numbers.

Money Allen had raised for his initiative will be used for gas tax repeal efforts, not his gubernatorial campaign.

Lawmakers last year voted to increase gas taxes by 12 cents per gallon along with annual increases tied to inflation. They also raised diesel taxes and created a new vehicle registration fee that ranges from $25 to $175 depending on the value of the vehicle. It’s projected to raise $5 billion a year for road maintenance, public transit and other transportation projects.

California Gas Tax Initiative Fails but Another Gains Steam 13 January,2018Bianca Hernandez

  • solvingmystery

    Most consumers buy less than 500 gallons of gas per year. That’s less than an extra $5 per month. We need to fix our roads and bridges. This is one of the cheapest way (if not the cheapest way) to do it.

    Shame on GOP for trying to overturn a good policy, just to throw red meat at their base. Shame on them.

    • gbtmpgb

      It is not about how much more we are going to pay. It is about spending already collected taxes wisely. CA is already top 5 in every category of taxes. Where is all that money going. You are most probably union guy trying to put positive spin while public unions with the help legislators are looting CA treasury.

      • City Resident

        Both our state’s gas tax as well as the federal gas tax have not kept pace with inflation. For 23 years, California’s gas tax remained unchanged and its buying power had dwindled, resulting in debt-financing of basic road maintenance (a problem future generations will have to contend with). Now, California has joined over twenty other states in increasing its gas tax. This is fiscally responsible.

        • gbtmpgb

          Picture says more than your words. The tax money is going to pensions instead of transportation. The new money will also go to pensions. See there is no increase in transportation spending in 2018 despite new taxes. It is just a lie from KQED to fool CA residents.

          • City Resident

            Clearly there are problems with public pensions which need to be addressed, but there are also major transportation problems that have only worsened in ensuing years. It is fiscally responsible for road users to pay as they go, to cover road maintenance expenses (and, ideally, the climate change they cause) – rather than leaving the problem for future generations to pay and clean up.

          • gbtmpgb

            I don’t think you understand. We are already paying more taxes. Those taxes are being diverted to pensions. Even the new gas taxes will be diverted to pensions. The pot holes are not going anywhere. They will still be there. Fast forward another year, govt will propose another set of tax increases and those also will go to pensions. Your familiar pot holes will still be there to keep you alert during the commute.

          • City Resident

            Perhaps we can agree to disagree. The gas tax will provide billions of dollars to repair, maintain, and improve our transportation infrastructure. With reasonable leadership (which includes our current, fiscally responsible governor), problems with public employee pensions will also be addressed.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor