Opponents of a California law passed in 2017 dramatically increasing gas tax have garnered enough support to repeal the unpopular law, according to a representative with the state’s Republican Party.
Republicans have collected nearly one million signatures for the ballot measure that would nix the law, which increases the gas tax 12 cents per gallon and diesel fuel by 20 cents per gallon Petitioners originally needed only 585,000 signatures to get the initiative on November’s ballot.
“There’s so many things – taxes that are hidden that people don’t appreciate – when you go to the pump and you put in 20 gallons and then you see that your cost is a lot higher – that upsets people,” Shawn Steel, the Republican national committeeman from California, told Fox Business’ Stuart Varney Thursday.
“No resistance – nobody says ‘no.’ They said it’s going to repeal the gas tax and that’s something that people understand,” he added. Steel and other Republicans are hoping to use the law as a blunt weapon against Democrats as the mid-term elections near.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the law in April 2017 after poking and prodding state Republicans for complaining about the measure. They “expect the tooth fairy to pay the $5 billion” cost associate with maintaining roads, Brown said of the GOP shortly before lawmakers passed the bill.
There is evidence the move could hit pay dirt.
Nearly 58 percent of voters oppose the tax increase, including 39 percent who say they strongly reject the legislation, according to a survey the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies conducted shortly after the measure was passed in June 2017. Only 35 percent of voters surveyed favor the law, which raises taxes on gasoline and diesel and hikes vehicle registration fees to fix roads and highways.
Opposition against the measure is widespread. Voters in all major regions of the state other than the Bay Area and all age categories over 30 are unhappy about it. Liberal voters are the only group that largely supports the law. Other polls are more split. More than 47 percent of likely voters favor repeal, while 48 percent oppose nixing the law, according to a poll the Public Policy Institute of California released in February.
A similar gas tax increase helped bring down former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 after he signed legislation dramatically increasing the vehicle license fee. No one is clamoring to recall Brown. Republicans have collected enough signatures to force the recall of Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman, who helped marshal the unpopular bill through the parliamentary process. That election will take place on June 5.
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