California voters will decide this fall whether to overturn a recent increase to state gasoline and diesel taxes that has raised billions of dollars for road repairs and other transportation projects.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Monday that an initiative to repeal the tax hikes, as well as new vehicle registration fees, has qualified for the November ballot. The measure is being pushed by Republican politicians, including gubernatorial candidate John Cox, to boost conservative turnout in the upcoming election.
Led by Gov. Jerry Brown, mostly Democratic lawmakers passed the transportation tax package last year, arguing that the money was desperately needed to fix California's crumbling streets and highways. The new fees took effect in November and are expected to raise more than $5 billion per year.
Some of that money has already been set aside for projects in the Sacramento area, including pothole repairs, adding carpool lanes to Highway 50 and an expansion to the San Joaquin commuter rail line.
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If approved, the initiative would not only undo the fuel tax increases and vehicle registration fees, but also prohibit the Legislature from passing any future increase without a statewide vote.
Public polls have consistently shown weak support for the taxes and a majority of California voters prepared to repeal them. One state senator was recalled earlier this month after opponents cast him as the deciding vote on the increase.