California Gas Tax Supporters Get Good News from Latest Voter Survey

In a turnaround from prior voter surveys, a poll released Wednesday on November propositions found a slim majority of voters opposed to repealing the state's first legislative gas tax increase since 1989. Rent control opponents received good news too

3 minute read

September 29, 2018, 9:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid


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"Two of the most contentious measures on the November ballot — repealing California’s gas tax and empowering cities to expand rent control — are struggling to gain traction with voters six weeks before the election, according to a new poll," reports Marisa Kendall for the Bay Area News Group.

About half of likely voters say they would reject both measures, while a little more than a third would support them, according to a statewide poll released Wednesday night by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Voters were more likely to reject Proposition 6, which if passed would repeal the 2017 gas tax and vehicle registration fee increase intended to raise $5.1 billion annually by 2020, with the money going to fix the state’s freeways and streets and refurbish trains and buses. Fifty-two percent of likely voters said they would vote no, 39 percent said they would vote yes, and 8 percent said they didn’t know. Democrats were even more likely to reject the gas tax repeal, while Republicans were inclined to vote for it.

The survey results are a stark turnaround from the last three statewide polls posted here:

"But nearly everyone agreed the gas tax will be a crucial issue on the November ballot — 84 percent of likely voters described the issue as very important or somewhat important," adds Kendall on Wednesday's poll.

State gas tax history

The last actual gas tax increase (as opposed to an annual adjustment determined by the state Board of Equalization) was by one cent in 1994, resulting from a nine cents per gallon tax increase included in Proposition 111 that 52 percent of voters supported in June 1990. A year earlier, the legislature had agreed to place the measure on the ballot by approving Senate Constitutional Amendment 1.

If Proposition 6 is passed, the 12 cents-per-gallon gas tax increase that went into effect last November will be repealed, and all future gas tax increases would have to be decided by the voters, similar to Prop. 111.

Rent control initiative

Forty-eight percent of likely voters said they would reject Proposition 10 — a measure that would give cities unlimited authority to impose rent control by repealing Costa Hawkins, the state law that prohibits capping rents on single-family homes or buildings built after 1995 and allows landlords to charge new tenants market-rate rents when long-term renters leave," reports  Thirty-six percent said they would vote for the measure, and 16 percent said they didn’t know. 

Recent posts on the rent control initiative:

Addressing both ballot initiatives, Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC, and a former professor of urban and regional planning at the University of California, Irvine, observed:

“What the polls suggest is that the proponents would have a lot of work to do to get to the majority support because right now they’re not close to it.”

All 11 California propositions can be found on Ballotpedia.

Kendall also reports on the poll results on political races in the general election, including governor: Newsom (D) vs. Cox (R), and U.S. Senator: Feinstein (D) vs. de León (D).

Survey details

"Findings in this report are based on a survey of 1,710 California adult residents, including 1,195 interviewed on cell phones and 515 interviewed on landline telephones," according to the PPIC press release. "Interviews took place from September 9–18, 2018."

Wednesday, September 26, 2018 in The Mercury News

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