Could California’s Gas-Tax Battle Decide Who Controls Congress?

Could California’s Gas-Tax Battle Decide Who Controls Congress?

REUTERS/Max Whittaker

California lawmakers last year passed a 12-cent gasoline tax to fund a campaign to fix the state’s roads and bridges.

Now, The New York Times’ Adam Nagourney reports, a ballot measure to repeal the tax has turned into “a major battle with far-reaching implications for the state’s transportation network and the Democratic campaign to seize control of Congress in November.”

The key details:

  • The gas tax and higher vehicle fees would raise $5 billion a year.
  • Republicans argue that the $6.1 billion surplus projected under Gov. Jerry Brown’s final budget should be used for the infrastructure repairs instead of the gas tax. John Cox, the Republican candidate for governor, made repeal of the gas tax the heart of his campaign. Rising gas prices — Californians are now paying $3.66 a gallon for regular gas — will likely benefit the repeal effort.
  • Democrats are waging a campaign to save the tax — and they’ve got business and labor leaders on their side. “They argue that a repeal would stop projects already underway, as well as raise questions about how the rest of the nation can find the money to deal with an epidemic of deteriorating roads, highways and bridges,” Nagourney writes.
  • Democrats also charge that the repeal campaign is a really meant to boost GOP turnout. “This has nothing to do with taxes,” the governor said. “This is engineered by the Republican congressional delegation to prop up their vulnerable Republicans in Orange County and the Central Valley. They don’t give a damn about the roads in California.”

Read the story at The New York Times.