Lawmaker Sues Over Description Of His Ballot Measure On State’s Gas Tax

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A Republican state lawmaker running for governor sued California’s attorney general on Friday, saying the Democratic official is misleading the public about a campaign to repeal a gasoline tax hike.

Assemblyman Travis Allen is behind a ballot initiative to repeal the tax increase, which will add 12 cents to the price of a gallon of gas starting in November. His lawsuit says Attorney General Xavier Becerra misleadingly describes it in the official ballot measure summary as a measure to repeal money for road repairs. The lawsuit also points out that the words “tax” and “fee” do not appear in the official ballot measure title.

“Californians deserve better,” Allen, a Huntington Beach Republican, said in an interview. “I am committed to making sure that Californians have an opportunity to repeal the gas tax and to know exactly what they’re voting for in November 2018.”

A spokesman for Becerra says the title and summary his office wrote “clearly explain the ballot initiative.” That title says the initiative will “eliminate recently enacted road repair and transportation funding.”

Lawmakers approved a tax hike on gasoline and diesel in April. It is expected to generate about $5 billion per year to repair roads and bridges. It raises gas taxes by 12 cents a gallon – a 43 percent increase – and diesel taxes from 16 cents per gallon to 36 cents. Drivers will also face a new yearly fee on their vehicles. The taxes and fees will rise each year with inflation.

Allen, who recently announced he is running for governor in 2018, said the gas tax is unpopular with voters. A separate campaign is underway to recall Democratic Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton over his vote in support of the tax increase. That campaign has submitted 35,000 signatures to the state, but they haven’t been verified.

Allen’s ballot measure campaign must amass more than 365,000 signatures by January to qualify for the 2018 ballot.

ELIMINATES RECENTLY ENACTED ROAD REPAIR AND TRANSPORTATION FUNDING BY REPEALING REVENUES DEDICATED FOR THOSE PURPOSES.

INITIATIVE STATUTE. Eliminates recently enacted state and local transportation funding for repair and maintenance of streets, highways, bridges, safety projects, and public transportation by repealing portions of the tax on gasoline ($0.12 per gallon) and diesel fuel ($0.20 per gallon), sales and excise taxes on diesel fuel (4% per gallon), vehicle registration fees ($25-$175, depending on vehicle value), and $100 zero-emission vehicle fee. Eliminates Independent Office of Audits and Investigations, which is responsible for ensuring accountability in the use of revenue for transportation projects. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Reduced annual state transportation revenues of $2.9 billion in 2018-19, increasing to $4.9 billion annually by 2020-21. These revenues would otherwise primarily support state highway maintenance and rehabilitation, local streets and roads, and mass transit. (17-0004).

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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