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Richard Rider

Prop 6 — Consider how our CA gas tax compares with other states

The lies by opponents of Proposition 6 — the measure to repeal the LATEST GAS AND DIESEL TAX INCREASES — are breathtaking. Many people believe opponents when they falsely claim that — if Prop 6 passes — there will be essentially no funding for roads and bridges.  No one — even proponents of Prop 6 — are adequately presenting the actual numbers.  Especially the numbers compared to the other states.  Let me help:

In California, we now pay about 56 cents a gallon in state “gas pump” taxes — our state excise tax and sales tax.  This figure is scheduled to rise dramatically (and automatically) in future years, but let’s put that fact aside for this comparison.

In addition, we pay the hidden CA “cap and trade” tax.  It’s estimated by the CA Legislative Analyst’s Office at 10 to 12 cents a gallon. Using 10 cents, that brings our total CA state gas taxes to 66 cents a gallon — easily the highest total gas tax in the nation.

Prop 6 will reduce that CA gas tax figure 12 cents a gallon (the recent tax increase amount).  That means that California will still be collecting about 54 cents a gallon — a decrease of 22%.  That reduction does NOT eliminate funding for roads and bridges.  Not hardly!

But here’s the thing that no one talks about:  Even AFTER Prop 6 is passed, California will STILL be collecting the SECOND HIGHEST TOTAL GAS TAXES IN THE NATION!  Only Pennsylvania will be higher.  Most states are much lower.

How can the other states build their roads and bridges with far less tax money than California?  In addition to being much more efficient in their spending, these states usually don’t divert their gas taxes for bike lanes (which INCREASE congestion), hiking trails, beautification projects, parks, mass transit (especially wildly expensive commuter rail) and other non-road expenditures favored by California politicians.

Here’s another surprise. Included in our gas price is funding for the infamous California HIGH SPEED RAIL — which is now to be largely paid for with cap and trade taxes. Don’t believe opponents when they claim you are not paying for HSR at the pump — you most certainly ARE.

And what about diesel?  Compared to the other states, our total CA diesel taxes are even higher than gasoline. We are now almost DOUBLE the national average diesel tax — NOT COUNTING the hidden CA cap and trade tax.

We all pay those diesel taxes in every tangible product we buy.  For businesses, transportation costs are a “pass through” expense that is paid by their customers in the form of higher prices. 

In short — we do NOT have a California gas and diesel tax REVENUE problem.  Instead we have a HUGE California SPENDING PRIORITY problem.  State politicians have been holding our road system hostage — using it to raise our taxes over and over — mostly for other projects. 

As the droll P.J. O’Rourke commented, Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”  It’s up to us voters to provide the adult supervision so sadly lacking in Sacramento.

Force politicians to do what we do — prioritize spending.  Use the “road tax” for roads!  Vote YES on Prop 6.