This story first appeared in inewsource’s weekend newsletter. Sign up for it here.
Californians will be asked to vote on 11 ballot measures in November. One of the most contested is Proposition 6. If voters pass the measure, it would repeal a state law enacted in 2017 that raised the gas tax by 12 cents a gallon and created a vehicle registration fee to fund road repair and transportation projects.
Reporter Jill Castellano spent the past few weeks reporting on Prop. 6 and who in California has donated money supporting or opposing the repeal.
Turns out, a lot of the cash is coming from San Diego County.
– Shyla Nott, inewsource
Breaking down the gas tax repeal initiative
What happens if Prop. 6 passes?
San Diego County has already received more than $1 billion in infrastructure funding from the gas tax, which started being collected in November. So far, $128 million of that revenue has gone to road work repairs, excluding highways, and $195 million to expand and maintain Interstate 5.
If voters pass Prop. 6, all of the money already awarded would have to be returned to the state.
Republicans fuel the repeal effort
At the Republican helm of the gas tax repeal fight is radio talk show host and former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio. His political committee funding the repeal has over 25,000 donors who have given $1.9 million to take down the gas tax. An inewsource analysis found more donations came from San Diego than any other city in the state.
Republican leaders know their voter registration numbers have dwindled in the state, even in San Diego County, once a GOP stronghold, but they hope to leverage the appeal of repealing the gas tax to launch a tax revolt like Proposition 13 did in the 1970s. And by doing that, they hope to revive the Republican Party in the Golden State.
Gas tax repeal opponents
Republicans say the gas tax increase hurts working families. Democrats argue bad roads and transportation are the real burden for working families. They say the gas tax money is funding projects that are long overdue and will help Californians get to work on time.
Many Sacramento lawmakers, labor unions, transportation advocates and pro-business groups also have defended the gas tax increase saying it is creating jobs and boosting economic growth.
Search any Prop. 6 donor in California
Seven political committees are raising money to support or oppose the gas tax repeal ballot initiative. Our new database lets you look up any donor that has given money to these political committees.
One group opposing the gas tax repeal, Stop the Attack on Bridge and Road Safety, has raised $24 million, more money than all of the other gas tax committees combined. In total, the repeal effort has raised $4.3 million.
Sweetwater school controversy over paying trustees for missed board meetings
A Sweetwater Union High School District trustee who asked to be compensated for a board meeting he missed because of a “hardship” was actually in Sacramento lobbying on behalf of his labor union and having dinner with Democratic governor candidate Gavin Newsom.
Superintendent Karen Janney recommended the board pay trustee Nicholas Segura the $413.50 he would have received for attending the missed meeting, but when two taxpayers objected the decision was delayed.
In telling the board last month why he should be paid, Segura said, “I was planning on coming here that day until I was asked to have dinner with probably the next governor of California.” He added that he brought up Sweetwater school issues.
We'll let you know when big things happen.