Energy

Democrats Embrace California’s Gas Tax Increase Despite Widespread Opposition

(Shutterstock/Shawn Hempel)

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Chris White Tech Reporter

California Democratic politicians are not wavering from their support of the legislature’s gas tax increase even as polls show half of the state’s citizens remain vehemently opposed to the hike.

Nearly 46 percent of likely voters said they would vote to repeal the law and 33 percent said they would vote to keep it, while 22 percent are undecided, according to a SurveyUSA poll on Wednesday. The Democratic front-runner in the race for California’s governor’s mansion remains undaunted in his support for the much-maligned gas tax increase.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed the law in 2017 imposing a 12-cents-a-gallon increase on citizens and raising the tax on diesel fuel by 20 cents a gallon. It also implements an additional charge to annual vehicle license fees ranging from $25 to $175 depending on the car’s value. (RELATED: Governor Brown’s Move To Hike California’s Gas Taxes Could Doom Dems As Elections Approach)

Former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat campaigning for California’s governor’s mansion, publicly announced his support for the tax increase during a gubernatorial debate in May.

“I applaud the courage of the legislators … we need to protect and preserve the gas tax,” he said, adding that the increase helps pay for improvements to the state’s supposedly crumbling roads. Preliminary records show the increase is being used to update transportation programs, not roads.

The California State Transportation Agency announced in April grants to recipients for some $2.6 billion of the transit funding raised through the law. The awards include $28.6 million for 40 electric buses and $40.5 million for light-rail vehicles in Sacramento. Nearly 28 projects were awarded cash from the gas tax increase. None of them involves road upkeep.

California GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox is slated to take on Newsom as citizens in the Golden State continue to rail against a Democrat-led gas tax increase.

He has received President Donald Trump’s ringing endorsement as the Republican seeks to do what many believe is impossible: use a broadly conservative message to win California’s governor’s mansion. Cox is banking on a slew of unpopular tax increases to help accomplish the feat.

Cox is vowing to wage a high-minded and civil contest against Newsom, who is promising to govern like Brown. Newsom will have to contend with Republicans who are painting the outgoing governor as the primary culprit behind the tax increase.

If Cox hopes to use the gas tax as a cudgel during his campaign, he’ll have to kick the narrative into hyper-drive. SurveyUSA’s poll shows the Republican businessman trailing Newsom 58 percent to 29 percent.

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