Gas Tax Repeal Has 3/4 of Signatures Needed — with 30 Days to Go

An effort to repeal California’s new gas tax repeal has collected three quarters of the required signatures, and has 30 days to gather the last 200,000 to place an initiative on the November ballot.

The Reject The Gas Tax referendum, sponsored by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, has received substantial bipartisan voter support towards gathering the 587,407 California signatures from valid registered voters that are legally required to place an initiative on the ballot.

California’s Democrat-controlled legislature claimed that “The Road Repair and Accountability Act” of 2017 (SB-1), which they passed almost a year ago, would provide $5 billion per year to address significant funding shortfalls to maintain the state’s multimodal transportation network as the “backbone of the economy and critical to quality of life.”

But advocates of the gas tax were silent on how the regressive measure would hammer middle-income and lower-income families. The average California family of four is now paying about $300 more per year in gas taxes and fees and will pay about $400 more in 2019, along with an additional $50 in gas taxes for each year thereafter.

Progressives understand that after California Gov. Grey Davis increased car registration fees in 2003 by a similar $263 per year, voters retaliated by recalling the Democrat governor and sweeping Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger into office. …

Click here to read the full article from Breitbart.com/California 

Taxpayers shouldn’t tolerate gas tax extortion by transportation interests

Gas-Pump-blue-generic+flippedA coalition of government entities and special interests which thrive on transportation dollars recently sent a threat letter to Republican members of Congress because those members have the audacity to oppose the huge tax increase passed by the California Legislature with the enactment of Senate Bill 1. The threat was not well received and, in fact, will likely backfire on the tax increase supporters.

The SB1 tax hike, imposed without voter approval, is very unpopular according to virtually all public and private polling. (A more recent poll claims that repeal of the gas tax is not supported by a majority of Californians, but that poll is suspect for several reasons, not the least of which is that the hike has yet to take affect.) Realizing how unpopular the gas tax is, several Republican members of Congress are contemplating support for a measure to repeal that tax.

Had the letter stuck to issues of transportation policy — such as why California needs to have the highest gas taxes in the nation — it would still have been wrong but at least it wouldn’t have been offensive. Unfortunately, supporters of the tax decided to take the low road and issued a thinly veiled threat that would have been more fitting for an episode of the Sopranos. Specifically, the letter stated, “We don’t think your objective is to create new political adversaries.” Moreover, the letter states that the coalition would “mount a robust and powerful effort in opposition to this initiative, using the voices of California’s business community to counter your efforts.”

As distinguished from the self-interested motivations of the tax increase proponents, including big construction corporations, the California Republican congressional delegation has decided to put the interests of middle-class taxpayers first and they should be commended for it. Indeed, in their written response, they demolish the arguments advanced by the special interests. …

Click here to read the full article from the Orange County Register

Gov. Brown signs bill OKing $52 billion tax to fix state roads

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Friday a bill that will raise $52 billion in new taxes and fees to pay for the state’s roads and bridges.

Brown signed SB1, as he was expected to, without any fanfare or ceremony. He also gave final approval to two companion bills that were needed to lure reluctant lawmakers to support the transportation bill.

Under SB1 the state’s gas excise tax, which is currently 18 cents, will increase by 12 cents per gallon. The excise tax on diesel fuel, which is used by the commercial trucking industry, will increase by 20 cents a gallon to 36 cents. The diesel sales tax also will rise to 5.75 percent from 1.75 percent. Those increases begin Nov. 1.

Beginning Jan. 1, vehicle registration fees will increase by $25 to $175 depending on the value of the vehicle. Owners of zero-emission vehicles will begin paying an additional $100 annual fee beginning in 2020. …

Click here to read the full article

Did Sacramento break the law in transportation tax rush?

los-angeles-freewaysDid lawmakers break the law when they passed Senate Bill 1, the transportation tax increase?

There’s a quaint provision in the California Constitution that reads, “A person who seeks to influence the vote or action of a member of the Legislature in the member’s legislative capacity by bribery, promise of reward, intimidation, or other dishonest means, or a member of the Legislature so influenced, is guilty of a felony.”

By the time Gov. Jerry Brown finished twisting arms and greasing palms to pass a massive transportation tax hike, that antique language was on the curb like a broken grandfather clock waiting for a bulky-item pickup.

Brown and legislative leaders promised a billion dollars for specific local projects in the districts of wavering lawmakers, and one termed-out Republican senator made a deal for a law to protect people in his profession — civil engineering, not the profession you’re thinking of — from liability in construction lawsuits.

It’s not easy to prove a quid pro quo, Latin meaning “something for something.” People don’t typically leave a written record that says, “I’ll vote for this if you vote for that.”

But one thing is different this time. In November, California voters passed Proposition 54, a measure aimed at guaranteeing transparency in state lawmaking. Prop. 54 says bills must be in print and online in their final form 72 hours before the Legislature votes on them.

The transportation tax increase, SB1, was posted online on April 3. If the Legislature was going to meet its self-imposed deadline to pass the bill on April 6, not one word of it could be changed before the vote.

So all the wheeling, dealing, greasing, and “promise of reward” had to go into a separate bill.

And it did.

SB132 contains a billion dollars of “that” which was negotiated in exchange for a vote on “this.”

Not only is it in writing, there are many statements on the record from lawmakers that their vote for the transportation tax was explicitly tied to a promise from the governor and legislative leaders that the “thats” would be delivered.

Are the deals spelled out in SB132 a violation of the law under Proposition 54? They are effectively amendments to SB1 that were written into a different bill. If that’s legal, then the 72-hour requirement that voters just added to the state constitution has already been thrown to the curb with the rest of the grandfather clocks.

Before the truck comes to pick up the garbage, we should retrieve that language about bribery and reward and see if it applies to outgoing Sen. Anthony Cannella’s deal to condition his vote for SB1 on the passage of SB496, a bill Cannella authored to protect “design professionals,” including civil engineers, from lawsuits stemming from future work. “Anthony is a civil engineer,” Cannella’s official bio states.

Maybe you’re thinking it won’t pass. He was ahead of you. Language was added to the billion-dollar spending bill, SB132, to make it “operative” only if SB496 is enacted.

In addition to the billion dollars of “reward” written into SB132 on April 6, the bill was amended on April 5 to add $1 billion for “augmented employee compensation.”

Yes, another $1 billion of “compensation increases and increases in benefits” for state workers was slipped in while everyone was wondering where the state spent all our transportation taxes.

Talk about being taken for a ride.

Susan Shelley is a columnist and member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group, and the author of the book, “How Trump Won.”