Proposition 6: Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding. Requires Certain Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees be Approved by the Electorate.

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The Question: 

Should the increase in vehicle fuel taxes and fees enacted by the Legislature in 2017 be reversed and should the Constitution be amended to require voter approval of any transportation related taxes and fees?

The Situation: 

In 2017 lawmakers passed the Road Repair and Accountability Act (SB 1) increasing state funding for transportation purposes from $6.6 billion in 2016-17 to $12.1 billion in 2018-19. By 2020-21 when all the taxes will have been in effect, SB 1 revenue is estimated to total $5.1 billion annually.

On November 1, 2017 State fuel excise taxes per gallon increased 12 cents for gasoline and 20 cents for diesel. Diesel State sales tax increased by 4 percent. A new transportation fee was added to the cost of registering a vehicle, including a fee for electric cars starting in 2020. After July 1, 2020, fuel excise taxes will be adjusted for inflation. 

Voters restricted the new SB 1 tax revenues to transportation purposes by approving Prop 69 in June 2018.

In March 2018 US News & World Report rated California 49th in road quality, 11th in bridge quality, and 46th in commute times among the fifty states.

The Proposal: 

Prop 6 would:

  • Repeal the fuel tax increases and vehicle fees enacted by SB 1.
  • Amend the State Constitution to require any future legislatively-imposed taxes on fuels and vehicles to take effect only if the voters of the state vote to approve it.
Fiscal Effect: 

If Prop 6 is approved, SB 1 transportation tax revenues will be reduced in 2018-19 from $4.4 billion to $2 billion. After that time SB 1 will no longer exist and transportation tax revenue will be reduced by $5.1 annually. According to the Legislative Analyst, the loss of funding will affect state highway maintenance and rehabilitation, local streets and roads, and mass transit.

Adding the requirement that most transportation-related taxes must also be approved by the voters will make it more difficult to impose such changes in the future.

What a YES or NO Vote Means
A YES Vote Means: 

Fuel and vehicle taxes recently passed by the Legislature would be eliminated, which would reduce funding for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs. The Legislature would be required to get a majority of voters to approve new or increased state fuel and vehicle taxes in the future.

A NO Vote Means: 

Fuel and vehicle taxes recently passed by the Legislature would continue to be in effect and pay for highway and road maintenance and repairs, as well as transit programs. The Legislature would continue not to need voter approval for new or increased state fuel and vehicle taxes in the future.

Support & Opposition
Supporters Say: 
  • Gas taxes and fees are too high, fall the hardest on hardworking families, and are unnecessary in a state that has a budget surplus.  
  • One third of the gas tax increase will be diverted to non-road related pet projects including building parks and training for formerly incarcerated felons through the Workforce Development Board. 
  • Tax increases on gasoline that directly affect people’s lives are “too big” for just the governor and Legislature to decide.
Opponents Say: 
  • Cracked, potholed roads pose a major safety threat to California drivers; 89% of counties have roads in poor or at-risk condition and more than 1600 bridges and overpasses are structurally unsafe. 
  • Reliable transportation infrastructure is critical to get Californians to work, move goods and services to the market, and support our economy.
  • Requiring voter approval of fuel taxes or vehicles fees already passed by a supermajority in the Legislature risks the unintended consequences of ballot box budgeting.