69: Gas Tax Lock Box
Background: Last year, Governor Brown signed bill to spend an additional $5 billion per year on road repairs and other transportation improvements. The extra money comes from a series of hikes to the state gasoline and diesel tax, and a few new fees on car owners. The California Constitution requires that the money raised by certain gas taxes and road fees be spent only on transportation-related projects. But not all the new fees in last year’s legislation were covered by that rule.
What it would do:
Keep lawmakers from spending new diesel tax and car fee money on anything other than transportation projects. Also exempts that new money from the state’s constitutional spending limit.
What it would cost the government: Nothing.
Why is it on the ballot:
State Sen. Josh Newman from Fullerton and Assemblyman Jim Frazier of Oakley introduced a bill to put this proposition on the ballot last April. This was meant to assure taxpayers that their money was being well spent and tamper some of the political pushback against the bill. How did that strategy work out? Newman is now facing a recall election.
Arguments in Favor:
If California taxpayers are going to be asked to pay more to fix the state’s roads, they deserve some guarantee that the extra money they cough up will actually go where lawmakers say it’s going to go.
Taxes never should have been raised in the first place. Road and highway repairs in California are long overdue, but lawmakers should have found the money by making state agencies more efficient and cutting red tape to reduce construction costs. Promising not to misspend money that never should have been taken from taxpayers to begin with is insulting.