Proposition 6 would repeal the gasoline tax passed last year, the first gasoline-tax increase in 23 years. Proposition 6 would also require all future fuel taxes to be voter approved, which is a ludicrous idea given the dire condition of California’s transportation infrastructure.
According to the LA Times: “Here’s what the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown approved: The law increased the gasoline tax by 12 cents a gallon, the diesel excise tax by 20 cents a gallon and the diesel sales tax to 5.75% from 1.75%. The fuel taxes would rise with inflation in future years. It also raised annual vehicle registration fees between $25 and $175, depending on the vehicle’s value. And it created a new $100 annual fee, starting in 2020, for zero-emission vehicles, which don’t pay gas taxes. The total value to the state of the tax and fee hikes is about $5 billion a year.”
Regressive taxation schemes are a serious problem, of course, but gasoline taxes are a no-brainer. First, we simply must discourage fuel consumption by any and all means. Second, our transportation infrastructure is falling apart statewide: “California has more than 1,600 bridges and overpasses that are structurally deficient, and 89% of counties have roads that are rated in ‘poor’ or ‘at-risk’ condition.”
Proposition 69, passed by voters in June of this year, requires that money raised by fuel taxes be spent on transportation-related purposes, and ensures that revenue from fuel taxes does not count toward state-spending appropriation limits. In other words, gas-tax money will be spent on roadways, bridges, and public transportation.
Is the cost of living too high in California? Obviously. Will repealing the gas tax help? Not necessarily, as there’s no provision in Prop 6 to guarantee lower prices at the pump. But paying a little extra when you fill up will help lower vehicle maintenance and repair costs, according to one study, by as much as $300 per year on average for California drivers. Not to mention increasing safety for us all.
The next time you’re stuck under a bridge at a dead stop in traffic, I promise you won’t be thinking about the couple extra dollars you spent at the gas station. You’re going to be thinking about the most recent bridge collapse you heard about in the news — because nationwide our infrastructure is disintegrating all around us — and you’re going to wish someone would finally make maintenance a priority. Make America’s Bridges Great Again and all that. So be the person who makes it a priority, and vote NO on Prop 6.