SB1, which was passed by state legislators in 2017, remains in effect after midterm elections.
SACRAMENTO — A 12-cent gasoline tax approved by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown remains in effect, as California’s voters failed to overturn Senate Bill 1 (SB1) through the ballot initiative process. Proposition 6, which proposed a repeal of the gas tax, with only 44.7 percent of the electorate voting in favor of the initiative on Nov. 6.
The gas tax hike has certainly been felt at the pump by drivers and boaters alike. Several sources spoke with The Log shortly after SB1 became law in mid-2017 and said the 12-cent levy fully applied to fuel docks across the state. Repealing the gas tax hike, accordingly, could have brought relief to everyone filling up – be it at a terrestrial gas station or on-the-water fuel dock. Yet the tax remains in place.
Voters had the opportunity to chime in on the gas tax hike repeal via Proposition 6, but the levy itself was quite the strain on California’s political climate as soon as it became law in mid-2017. Josh Newman, for example, lost his seat in the State Senate as a direct result of the gas tax hike.
Newman, who defeated Ling Ling Chang by the skin of his teeth in a contentious election in 2016, was recalled during the 2018 primary election. He effectively served as a scapegoat for those who opposed the gas tax hike. Those opponents specifically said Newman gave the Democrats in Sacramento enough support to enact the gas tax hike without any real pushback.
Chang would have her “revenge” in this year’s primary election, as she won the election to fill Newman’s recalled seat. She is currently serving the remainder of Newman’s current State Senate term, which ends in January 2019.
The recall effort was followed by Proposition 6, which appeared on the Nov. 6 ballot. The ballot initiative was a response by a group of voters stating the electorate should have been consulted on SB1. Those behind the ballot initiative specifically argued the gas tax hike made its way through the state’s executive and legislative branches without any input from the public.
Proposition 6, though, fell short as more than 3.8 million people voting against the gas tax hike repeal (compared to 3.07 million people voting in favor).
More than $5 billion of revenue from the gas tax hike, accordingly, will continue to flow into the state’s coffers, with the failure of Proposition 6.
Brown and his legislative allies argued the gas tax hike would have infused new funding into transit programs. Highway and road maintenance and repair projects were also covered under the tax. Gas tax hike advocates, throughout the midterm election campaign,
Those opposed to the gas tax hike said funding for those programs and projects could already be found in existing, pre-SB1 sources. Challenging SB1 through Proposition 6, its supporters argued, would force legislators to be more responsible with the limited resources they already have and prevent them from adding new taxes whenever additional funding was needed for infrastructure repairs.
The failure of Proposition 6 means current gasoline prices will continue to factor in the 12-cent fuel tax.
Do you, as a boater, feel the pinch at the pump since the gas tax was enacted? Do you boat less as a result of the 12-cent gasoline tax? Please share your thoughts with The Log.