California gas tax repeal in danger, could spell trouble for GOP

The repeal effort, which includes qualifying the measure for the November ballot, received financial help from California Republican Party and top House Republicans such as Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. There are several GOP congressional seats at risk of flipping to Democrats, and some of the Republican candidates have focused on their support of the gas tax repeal as a way to tap into voter discontent with Sacramento’s policies.

“The Republican members of Congress who did donate, while we appreciate it, they remain a fraction of what was raised,” said Proposition 6 campaign leader Carl DeMaio, a Republican and former member of the San Diego City Council.

A coalition of business, labor, public safety and local government groups is fighting the gas tax repeal effort, and so far has poured more than $40 million into the effort, outspending supporters by nearly 10-to-1. The levy’s proponents argue that getting rid of the new gas tax will end up costing Californians even more money as streets and highways will further deteriorate. They also contend the gas tax repeal threatens public safety since there are more than 1,600 bridges and overpasses deemed “structurally deficient.”

“Gas prices in California are ridiculous — more than anywhere in the country,” said Gregory Landis, a Los Angeles-area real estate manager who identifies as an independent voter. “I have to drive 40 miles each way every day, and it adds up. And I don’t see the streets being taken care of with the money they’re already getting.”

As of Thursday, California motorists were shelling out an average of $3.81 per gallon for gasoline, the highest of the lower 48 states and well above the the national average of $2.84, according to AAA.

According to PPIC, 53 percent of Republican likely votes support Proposition 6 along with nearly half of independents. Only 28 percent of Democrats want to see the gas tax repealed.

“You have what we would define as a slim majority of Republicans,” said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC, a nonpartisan think tank based in San Francisco.

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