California gas tax repeal campaign kicks off - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

California gas tax repeal campaign kicks off

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8/CNS) - Backers of an initiative to repeal the recent increase to the gas tax and vehicle registration fee began gathering signatures Monday in San Diego. 

Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox appeared at a kickoff event outside the studios of KOGO-AM (600).  

"Sacramento politicians really crossed the line with these massive car and gas tax hikes and we intend to give taxpayers the chance to reverse that decision with this initiative," said DeMaio, chairman of Reform California, a political action committee that opposes tax increases and proposes efficiency reforms to fix problems. 

The group wants to put an initiative on next year's ballot. 

If approved, it would repeal an increase to gas tax and vehicle registration fees. 

SB 1, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on April 28, increased the gasoline excise tax by 12 cents a gallon, the diesel fuel excise tax 20 cents per gallon, the sales tax on diesel to 5.75 percent, and raised the vehicle registration fee by $25 to $175, depending on the value of the vehicle on Jan. 1. 

The legislature approved the increase on party lines with nearly all Democrats supporting it and Republicans against. 

"When you're taking $500, $600, perhaps $800 out of hard-working people's pockets, that's a pocketbook issue not a partisan issue," said Tony Krvaric of the San Diego County Republican party.  

Caltrans estimates the increase will cost an average California driver about $120 a year.  

Reform California puts the number closer to $400 including increases to tangible items like the cost of shipping food. 

Supporters argued at the time the money was essential to catching up with deferred projects. 

Brown said the revenue from the tax and registration fee increases will be used to repair roads, highways and bridges and improve public transportation. 

"This plan is a real solution," said Assemblyman Todd Gloria. "People have been willing to kick the can down the road when it comes to road repair. That's why we have so many potholes."  

Fix Our Roads, a coalition of business, labor and transportation organizations, supported the bill. 

"California drivers will have safer, less congested roads thanks to SB 1," according to the coalition. "Every single community in California will receive funding to make road safety improvements, fill potholes, and repair local streets, freeways, bridges and overpasses. And SB 1 comes with strict accountability requirements to reduce bureaucracy and ensure funds only go to transportation." 

The increases took effect at a time when wholesale gas prices were already on the rise, pushing the average price of a gallon of fuel over the $3 mark. The Automobile Club of Southern California reported that the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in San Diego County on Monday was $3.207. 

Stop the Gas Tax is a Republican-backed initiative. 

Supporters call the tax hike unnecessary and want it repealed. 

DeMaio said he planned to aim for 585,407 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify the initiative for the November 2018 ballot. Signature collection events are scheduled around the county. 

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