California Proposition 6, Voter Approval for Future Gas and Vehicle Taxes and 2017 Tax Repeal Initiative (2018)

California Proposition 6, the Voter Approval for Future Gas and Vehicle Taxes and 2017 Tax Repeal Initiative, is on the ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 6, 2018. The ballot initiative would repeal the gas and diesel tax increases and vehicle fees that were enacted in 2017 and require voter approval for fuel tax and vehicle fee increases in the future.

Overview

How would this ballot initiative impact taxes and fees?

As of 2018, increasing a tax in California requires a two-thirds vote of each state legislative chamber and the governor's signature. Proposition 6 would create the additional step of voter approval (via ballot propositions), along with legislative passage and the governor's signature, to impose, increase, or extend fuel taxes or vehicle fees. The requirement that tax increases receive voter approval would affect taxes and tax rates enacted after January 1, 2017, meaning fuel taxes and vehicle fees that were created or increased in 2017 or 2018 would be repealed. This would have the effect of repealing the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (RRAA), which the state legislature approved along party lines in April 2017.

What is the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017?

The Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (RRAA), also known as Senate Bill 1, was enacted into law on April 28, 2017. The RRAA increased the gas tax by $0.12 per gallon, increased the diesel fuel tax by $0.20 per gallon, increased the sales tax on diesel fuels by an additional 4 percentage points, created an annual transportation improvement fee, and created an annual zero-emission vehicles fee. The RRAA was designed to dedicate the revenue to transportation infrastructure. The increased taxes went into effect on November 1, 2017, one fee went into effect in 2018, and the second fee will go into effect in 2020. According to the state Senate Appropriations Committee, the RRAA is expected to generate an estimated $52.4 billion between 2017 and 2027.[3] In the California State Legislature, the RRAA had the support of most Democrats (two legislators voted "no"). Most Republicans voted against the RRAA (one legislator voted "yes"). Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed the legislation into law. In June 2018, voters approved Proposition 69, which created a constitutional mandate for the legislature to spend RRAA revenue on transportation-related purposes. The RRAA could have a notable impact on state politics in 2018.

Could the ballot initiative impact other elections in California?

"It’s a big deal," said Katie Merrill, a Democratic strategist. She added, "This gas tax measure, and especially based on the results of the Orange County recall [of Josh Newman], is going to increase Republican turnout, and that could be problematic for us in taking back these seats." On June 5, 2018, voters in State Senate District 29 recalled Sen. Josh Newman (D), following a recall campaign that focused on Newman's support for the RRAA. DeMaio commented, "Sacramento politicians must be flipping out in panic. Not only are we going to repeal the tax, but it’s going to kick several politicians out of Sacramento." Gov. Brown's spokesman Evan Westrup responded to DeMaio, stating, "Carl and his fellow Trumpites don’t care about California’s crumbling roads and horrible congestion, but the voters of California do. See you in November." U.S. Rep. Mimi Walters (R-45), who is running for reelection in 2018, said the initiative would help Republicans defend congressional seats in California and keep control of the U.S. House. Carl DeMaio (R), who was involved in the recall against Sen. Newman and launching the ballot initiative, agreed, saying, "It will motivate turnout, and let's be very clear: Republicans have a turnout problem this year."[8] Committees for GOP leadership in the U.S. House—Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.)—had all contributed to the initiative campaign. Gubernatorial candidate John Cox's (R) committee also contributed and is campaigning on the initiative. Michael Quigley, executive director of the pro-RRAA California Alliance of Jobs, responded to congressional Republicans' contributions, saying, "The repeal is being funded by D.C. Republicans and their party leaders for purely political reasons; to re-elect Republican politicians."[11] He added, "It’s some of the more cynical politics that we’ve seen in a long time." John Vigna, a spokesman for the California Democratic Party, commented, "Republicans are deluding themselves if they think this is a silver bullet that will save them from the Trump-sized anchor weighing them down. ... The condition of our infrastructure is an embarrassment that hurts the entire economy of the state, and Californians want it fixed."

How many times has the state voted on children's hospital bonds?

The 2018 ballot initiative is the third bond measure related to children's hospitals in California. California Children's Hospital Association developed all three of the ballot initiatives. In 2004, 58.26 percent of electors voted to pass Proposition 61, a $750-million bond measure for children's hospitals. In 2008, 55.26 percent of electors voted to pass California Proposition 3, a $980-million bond measure for children's hospitals. The California Children's Hospital Association developed both of the ballot initiatives.
Voters of California cast ballots on 40 bond issues, totaling $158.829 billion in value, from January 1, 1993, through June 5, 2018. Voters approved 32 (80.00 percent) of the bond measures—a total of $147.409 billion. As of September 1, 2018, California had $74.2 billion in debt from general obligation bonds. The state also had $32.7 billion in unissued bonds.

Ballot Title

The official ballot title is as follows:

“Eliminates Recently Enacted Road Repair and Transportation Funding by Repealing Revenues Dedicated for those Purposes. Requires any Measure to Enact Certain Vehicle Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees be Submitted to and Approved by the Electorate. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.”

Text of the measure

Ballot summary

The official ballot summary is as follows:

  • ARepeals a 2017 transportation law’s tax and fee provisions that pay for repairs and improvements to local roads, state highways, and public transportation.
  • Requires the Legislature to submit any measure enacting specified taxes or fees on gas or diesel fuel, or on the privilege to operate a vehicle on public highways, to the electorate for approval.