Two States to Decide on Gas Tax Measures on Election Day

California voters will likely decide on whether to repeal a 12-cents gas tax increase while Missouri voters will decide whether to increase the state's 17-cents per gallon gas tax, fourth lowest in the nation, by 10-cents per gallon over four years.
June 11, 2018, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Gas taxes played a prominent role in California's June primary, helping propel Republican John Cox into the number two slot to face Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Nov. 6, and recall state Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton).

On Nov. 6, Californians will likely decide on the Voter Approval for Gas and Vehicle Taxes Initiative, an initiated constitutional amendment that will not only repeal November's 12-cents per gallon tax increase, but all the other taxes and fees in Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 that produces over $5 billion annually to address the backlog of $130 billion in road, highway and bridge repairs throughout California.

Furthermore, it will mean that the legislature will be prevented from directly increasing the gas tax but will have to let the voters decide, which is just what will voters in Missouri will do on Election Day.

Lieutenant Gov. Mike Parson (R-Mo.) became governor on June 1 following the resignation of Gov. Eric Greitens (R) on May 29. On June 5, Parson "offered his initial support for raising the state’s gasoline tax to help rebuild roads and bridges across Missouri," reports Kurt Erickson for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Unlike California and almost all other states that have increased gas taxes in recent years, the Missouri legislature chose not to outrightly increase the gas tax, last raised in 1996, but to leave it to the electorate.

In one of their final acts before adjourning for the spring, Missouri lawmakers agreed to place a question on the general election ballot calling for a phased-in 10-cent increase in the state’s 17-cent per gallon motor fuel tax.

If approved, the state’s fuel tax for gas and diesel would rise 2.5-cents per year beginning in 2019, topping out at 27 cents in 2022. The proposal also would raise taxes on alternative fuels, including natural gas and propane.

Planetizen post in February indicated that then-Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was opposed to raising the gas tax, frustrating some legislators. However, according to Tessa Weinberg of the Kansas City Star, his approval was not needed.

The bill passed the House 88-60 on the last day of the session [May 18]. House communications director Trevor Fox said the governor's signature is not needed for the measure to go before voters.

Rep. Jean Evans, R-Manchester, the sponsor of the bill that includes the measure, said the tax would generate at least $288 million annually for the Highway Patrol and $123 million annually to local governments for road construction.

In August 2014, Missourians rejected, with 59 percent of the vote, a 10-year, three-quarter cent sales tax measure for transportation.

Hat tip to Jim Rhodes.

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Published on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 in St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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