Opponents of California’s recent gas tax say Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent comments likening them to “freeloaders” has created even more animus against the law’s supporters.
One lawmaker who is trying to repeal the so-called Road Repair and Accountability Act said Sunday that “outraged” citizens inundated his office with calls asking why the governor is so dismissive toward their concerns.
“Our phone has been ringing off the hook,” Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen told reporters. “Californians are outraged. Jerry Brown signs a $52 billion tax increase with another billion to buy off legislators with no vote of the people, and, to top it off, now he’s calling them freeloaders.”
They were referring to comments Brown made earlier this month suggesting he’s “had enough” of the loafers in his state who are following along in President Donald Trump’s footsteps. He also argued opponents of the gas tax, which imposes a $0.12 cent a gallon hike on citizens, are not being truthful.
His remarks also put wind in the sails of the state’s conservatives, who say Brown is acting hypocritical.
Carl DeMaio, a radio host in San Diego, said the remarks are stunning given the state’s luxurious welfare and pension benefits systems. California accrued more than $1.3 trillion in debt in 2015, according to the California Policy Center.
“When Jerry Brown says we’re a bunch of freeloaders, he obviously has not looked at his own social policies that allow people to get welfare without having requirements for work,” he said. “And, of course, don’t get me started about the largesse of the pension benefits and pay for government employees.”
DeMaio is part of a concerted effort to recall Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman for his vote in April favoring the gas tax.
Brown’s decision to support and approve the law prompted three Southern California radio talk show hosts to embark on the recall campaign targeting Newman, a first-term Democratic legislator who barely edged out his Republican opponent in November.
Chiampou’s pursuit of Newman follows in concert with Allen’s ballot initiative to repeal the $52 billion gas tax. Allen’s organizers must cobble together 365,880 voter signatures to qualify the measure.
Democrats in the state legislature forced the measure along party lines. Only one Republican — state Sen. Anthony Cannella — voted in favor of the measure after receiving $500 million in kickbacks for a commuter rail extension in his district. But Cannella’s Democratic colleagues are the lawmakers targeted.
California became the state with the highest gas tax after Brown signed the measure. The Golden State leap-frogged Pennsylvania, at $0.50 cents per gallon (cpg), with New York at $0.42 cpg following closely behind. The Golden State’s gas tax would increase from $0.40 to 0.52 cpg.
Gas taxes are supposed to provide revenue for road construction, maintenance, repair, and improvements, but states typically divert much of the money to other sources. In 2013, gas taxes and motor vehicle license fees paid for 40 percent of state and local road spending.
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