San Diego

Gas Tax Repeal Fight Heats Up

Putting gas tax on the ballot

It is a tax that is almost impossible to avoid.

The new California gas tax has had a significant impact on San Diego gas prices since it went into effect on Nov. 1.

Taxes on regular gas went up 12 cents, taxes on diesel went up 20 cents and more fees start in January.

California drivers did not get a chance to vote on these taxes, but they may get a chance to get rid of them.

"This is highway robbery and the pun is intended," said former San Diego city councilman and current radio host Carl DeMaio.

He is helping lead the fight against California's new gas tax hike, a hike that not only increases taxes on every gallon of regular and diesel gas but also impacts vehicle fees and sales tax.

DeMaio says the gas tax increase went through the California assembly much too fast and will little debate.

"The public did not get a chance to vote yes or no," said DeMaio. "We did not get a chance to hold them accountable for the existing funding."

SB-1, the gas tax bill, was first discussed in committee in January 2017, it was passed by the assembly and signed by the Governor in April.

Now DeMaio is working with Reform California to roll back the gas tax.  The group plans to collect signatures and pay for an ad campaign with the goal of a statewide repeal vote on next year's November ballot. 

One of the argument from critics centers on how the current tax money is being spent.  State Senator Jim Nielsen claims gas tax money is going to things as diverse as lifeguard recruitment, credit card fees, and parkland.

"Instead of raising the gas tax, we need to demand that the existing gas taxes go to roads," said DeMaio.

Gas tax supporters point out that the new law includes money for oversight by Caltrans and a position of Inspector General appointed by the Governor. The new taxes are supposed to raise $5.2 billion every year and help fix a backlog of road projects.

The proposed amendment from Reform California would repeal the bill, require a public vote for any future gas tax increase and limit how the money can be spent.

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