Campaign season has started and November 6th is not that far off. One of the ballot measures you will be voting on is Proposition 6, which would repeal the gas and auto tax increase voted in by the Democratic supermajority and one Republican last year with Senate Bill 1.
The battle over Prop. 6 will be between taxpayers and tax-eaters. The “tax-eaters” are the cities, counties and state that will be fixing the roads. It is also the companies that will be retained to assist in this effort. So, the private sector industries benefiting from the taxpayers will be opposing this ballot measure in order to protect their potential profits. As they say, “when money talks, the truth is silent.” So you will hear plenty of reasons to oppose Prop. 6 by this well funded, and selfishly motivated constituency.
The sad story is that if this collaboration of tax-eaters could just convince Caltrans to be one of the better managed Departments of Transportation, we could have avoided this debate. Governor Brown failed in improving this department.
The “taxpayers” are you and your neighbors who are feeling the stress of being overtaxed. Last month, in the 29th Senate District, the voters showed their dissatisfaction with the gas tax increase by recalling their Senator, who had voted for it. The natives are definitely restless and this will be a fierce fall campaign battle.
The titular leader of the Proposition weighs in with two similar editorial pieces. The first is from the San Diego Union-Tribune and the second is from the San Francisco Chronicle. Carl DeMaio has been the energy bunny on this issue and continues to lead the charge. If you’ve been reading my UPDATEs since my election to the State Senate, you’ll see my research in both pieces.
Why Californians should repeal gas tax
By Carl DeMaio
Californians are struggling as the cost of living skyrockets higher. Unfortunately, state politicians are simply adding to the financial strain on working families with massive increases in our gas and car taxes.
That’s why it is important to vote Yes on Proposition 6 to repeal these regressive and unfair tax hikes that will increase the cost of living for the typical family of four by up to $800 more per year.
It gets worse! If we don’t pass Proposition 6, the car and gas tax hikes are slated to increase every year automatically — without a vote of the people.
This year Californians will pay nearly $1 more per gallon because of taxes, fees and other government mandates. By 2021, many Californians will be paying close to $2 more a gallon extra because of taxes, fees and other government mandates — that’s up to $40 extra each time you fill up your car.
Everyone agrees we need to fix our roads, but state politicians and special interests are lying to voters when they claim the gas and car tax hikes will be used to fix our crumbling roads.
As we have seen in the past, the gas tax money is largely diverted away from roads and what little funding that is provided to roads is riddled with waste, fraud and abuse.
State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, released an independent analysis of CalTrans’ budget showing that only 20 percent of the gas tax funds were spent anywhere near roads.
Where do the politicians divert the gas tax money to? The funding has been diverted to cover budget deficits so politicians can continue to spend in other areas like higher salaries and pensions for state workers. For example, bus drivers in the Bay Area are earning six figures annually — with one bus driver earning $227,516 in pay and benefits last year alone!
Of the funds actually spent on infrastructure, the majority of funds get diverted from roads to transit buses, light rail projects, bike lanes (to replace roads), and even park land acquisition.
Our existing transportation agencies are riddled with waste and inefficiency. A recent study by the Reason Foundation shows for every $1 spent on average nationally to maintain or repair a mile of roadway, California spends $4.7 dollars for the same mile — a waste inflation factor of 470 percent.
Politicians will try to mislead you by bringing up the recently approved Proposition 69. Written entirely by politicians themselves, it is not the “lock box” they claim it is.
First, Proposition 69 did not cover all of the gas tax and transportation taxes we have to pay. Second, Proposition 69 contained zero accountability on where the gas funds will be spent — transit, bike lanes, parks, rail projects, etc. could receive all the funds instead of roads. Finally, the gas tax measure is specifically written to allow the governor to transfer the funds to cover General Fund shortfalls without a vote of the legislature or the people.
By voting Yes on Proposition 6 you can back a better solution to fix our roads without tax hikes.
Consider this simple fact: Before the latest gas and car tax hikes, Californians already paid one of the highest gas tax rates in the nation. That provides more than enough funding to have great roads, but only if the money is properly spent.
The Proposition 6 coalition not only seeks the repeal of the gas and car tax hikes, but we propose all of the previous gas tax be spent entirely on roads. We also propose earmarking the sales tax on cars to regional, inter-modal transportation projects. Finally we would impose significant accountability, efficiency and transparency reforms to make sure our funds are effectively spent.
A Yes vote on Proposition 6 will provide immediate tax relief to working families to help them with their cost of living. A Yes vote on Proposition 6 sends a message to out-of-touch politicians that we must make California more affordable, not less affordable. And a Yes vote on Proposition 6 puts us on the path to fixing our roads without a tax hike.
Nearly 1 million Californians signed the petition to get Proposition 6 on the ballot — Democrats, independents and Republicans all see our cost of living as unsustainable. Get more information on the Yes on Prop 6 campaign and join our grassroots effort by going to www.GasTaxRepeal.org.
DeMaio, a former San Diego City Councilmember, is Chairman of Reform California – Yes on Prop 6.
Repeal California’s gas tax increase and require road repairs
In this era of divisive politics, here’s something everyone can agree on: The cost of living in California is way too high. And the recently imposed increases in the state gasoline taxes and vehicle fees will hit working families hard by increasing the cost of living for the typical family of four by roughly $800 per year.
These tax increases are unfair, regressive and simply too much. That’s why nearly 1 million Californians from all walks of life signed the petition to get Proposition 6, the “Voter Approval for Future Gas and Vehicle Taxes and 2017 Tax Repeal Initiative,” on the ballot. Democrats, independents and Republicans all see our cost of living as unsustainable.
In addition to providing immediate tax relief to working families by repealing the gas tax and vehicle fee increases, a “yes” vote on Prop. 6 sends a message to out-of-touch politicians that we must make California more, not less, affordable.
If we don’t pass Prop. 6, a gas tax is slated to increase every year automatically — without a vote of the people.
This year, Californians will pay nearly $1 more per gallon because of increased taxes, vehicle registration and commercial weight fees and other government mandates such as the cap-and-trade assessment on fuels. By 2021, many Californians will be paying close to $2 more a gallon extra because of taxes, fees and other government mandates.
In addition to fighting the higher costs, a “yes” Prop. 6 will end this fraud being perpetrated by Sacramento: That the state spends the money to fix our roads. Want proof? Prior to these gas and car tax increases, California drivers were already paying some of the highest gas taxes in the country, and yet we still have the fourth-worst roads, according to Business Insider.
State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa (Orange County), a certified public accountant, has called out a California Legislative Analyst Office’s analysis of state highway and road programs funding and spending that shows only 20 percent of the gas tax funds were spent on roads.
The politicians will claim that Proposition 69, the “Transportation Taxes and Fees Lockbox” initiative approved by 81 percent of the electorate in June, provides a guarantee for road spending, but that is a flat lie.
Prop. 69 fails to cover all the transportation taxes we pay. It fails to guarantee even a single penny for roads. Instead, Prop. 69 allows the money to be diverted to a wide range of programs, including bike lanes, parkland acquisition, transit programs, light rail, and the state’s debt-ridden government pension program. Finally, the law gives the governor the ability to transfer all gas tax funds to cover General Fund shortfalls without even a vote of the Legislature or the people!
Bottom line: There is no guarantee for roads in these more recent gas and vehicle tax increases.
What little money that does make it to the roads is riddled with waste, fraud and abuse. The Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report reveals that California spends 2.6 times per mile more than the national average on state-controlled highways.
In 2014, California state auditors slammed Caltrans for “weak cost controls” that “create opportunities for fraud, waste and abuse.” Those same auditors also found Caltrans is overstaffed by 3,500 employees at a cost of a half billion dollars a year. One Caltrans engineer even golfed for 55 days while on the clock!
There is a better plan to fix our roads and transportation systems without a tax increase that will hurt working families.
The Prop. 6 coalition not only seeks the repeal of the gas tax and vehicle fee increases imposed by the Legislature this year, but we propose that 100 percent of gas tax revenues be spent on roads. We also propose earmarking the sales tax on autos for regional inter-modal transportation projects approved by voters in the region served. Finally, we would impose significant accountability, efficiency and transparency reforms to make sure our tax funds are effectively spent.
A “yes” vote on Prop. 6:
•Puts us on the path to fixing our roads without a gas tax increase.
•Gives struggling working families a break when they need it the most.
Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city council member, is the chairman of Reform California — Yes on Prop 6. For more information, go to www.GasTaxRepeal.org To comment, submit your letter to the editor at SFChronicle.com/letters.
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