Only Bay Area Voters Support State's New 12-cent Gas Tax

According to a UC Berkeley poll released Dec. 22, 52% of likely voters statewide would support either of two initiatives that hope to be placed on the ballot next November to repeal the gas tax that took effect Nov. 1, while 43% would retain the tax.

2 minute read

December 27, 2017, 1:00 PM PST

By Irvin Dawid

"The poll, conducted by UC Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies, surveyed 1,000 California registered voters between Dec. 7 and 16," reports Erin Baldassari, who covers transportation for The Mercury News, on Dec. 21. The gas tax is one of many taxes and fees included in the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 which the legislature passed with the bare minimum needed to meet the two-thirds supermajority requirement per Prop 13, on April 6.

Only the Bay Area supported the gas tax in the poll, with 60 percent stating they would oppose the repeal. By comparison, all other areas support repeal:

  • Inland counties:                       67%
  • Other Northern California:   60%
  • Other Southern California:   58%
  • Los Angeles County:             51%

Repeal backers are also more committed. "Nearly all of those backing the law’s repeal say they strongly support its repeal, while three quarters of those opposed are strongly opposed," according to the IGS poll [pdf].

The repeal initiative backed by Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) "has yet to gather any signatures while a California Supreme Court case decides how the ballot language will be presented to voters," reports Baldassari.

A second effort led by former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio has been certified by the attorney general, and DeMaio is gathering signatures, he said. DeMaio said it’s been easy to convince supporters to sign on.

A sign that only the Bay Area is "progressive?"

Support for the gas tax and other revenue measures in Senate Bill 1, which also funds public transit and bicycle and pedestrian facilities, may be more than a sign in believing in good roads and transportation, but perhaps the role of government in our lives. Explaining the widespread support found only in the Bay Area, Mark DiCamillo, the director of the poll, told Baldassari:

“It’s ground zero for the progressives in the state,” he said. “I think there’s just a bigger acceptance of (taxes) by voters here. They tend to view the importance of collective taxation as a way to make things better for everyone.”

The UC Berkeley IGS poll results are similar to the findings of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll conducted online among 1,504 Californians from Oct. 27 to Nov. 6.

"When asked their preference if the matter were put to a vote today, 54.2% of registered voters surveyed said they would cancel the tax and fee hikes, and 45.8% said they would vote to keep the increases in place," reported Patrick McGreevy for the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 10.

Hat tip to Chris Peeples.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017 in The Mercury News

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