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Gas Tax Repeal’s Fate Could Rest On What Voters Think They Can Gain Or Lose

Capital Public Radio file

Capital Public Radio file

A new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California suggests the fate of Proposition 6, which would repeal last year’s gas tax increase, could rest on what voters think they’re being asked to decide.

The poll found about 40 percent of likely voters support Proposition 6 when read the ballot description as they’ll see it on Election Day. But when asked another, more generic question about whether they would like last year’s gas tax increase to be repealed, support rose by nearly 10 percent — to half of likely voters.

The official ballot title, written by Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office, highlights what voters could lose if they vote in favor of the repeal: an average of $5 billion a year in road repair and transportation funding.

“It's a question of whether they’re going to think about it in the way that the proponents had originally envisioned it,” said the PPIC’s Mark Baldassare. “Or are they going to think about it the way that they're reading about it now when they go to the ballot itself.”

That could well be on the minds of the Yes on Proposition 6 campaign, which earlier this week released a proposed 2020 ballot measure that would set aside existing state tax dollars to fix roads and highways without last year’s gas tax hike.

“The Republicans say that we can cut the gas taxes and your roads will still be repaired. And the Democrats are saying, ‘No, these repairs are not going to be possible,’” said Dr. Robert Wassmer, a professor of public policy at Sacramento State University. “So of course people are going to think, well, if the roads are still going to be repaired, why do I want to pay this additional amount of money.”

The No on Proposition 6 campaign, meanwhile, has launched TV ads calling the measure “an attack on bridge and road safety.”

 Election 2018

Nadine Sebai

Former Temporary State Government Reporter

Nadine Sebai was Capital Public Radio’s temporary state government reporter. Nadine is also a co-editor of Local Matters, a weekly newsletter showcasing investigative and watchdog news stories from local publications across the country.  Read Full Bio 

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