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Transportation

California Transit Agencies Resist a Gas Tax Repeal

Proposition 6, an effort to repeal a major fuel fee increase, could set back the state's ambitious climate goals.
A Bay Area Rapid Transit train makes its way along the tracks in Oakland. If Proposition 6 passes and gas tax revenues are decreased, transit agencies around California could be forced to cut service or improvement plans.
A Bay Area Rapid Transit train makes its way along the tracks in Oakland. If Proposition 6 passes and gas tax revenues are decreased, transit agencies around California could be forced to cut service or improvement plans.Robert Galbraith/Reuters

In the spring of 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown and the state’s Democratic lawmakers pulled out the stops to do nearly the least popular thing for politicians to do: They raised the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon.

The increase didn’t just cover gasoline. Diesel fuel also got hit with an extra 20 cents per gallon, and annual vehicle registration fees got bumped from anywhere between $25 to $175, depending on the car’s value. To raise roughly $5 billion per year for statewide transportation infrastructure repairs and improvements, Senate Bill 1—which was packed with earmarks for communities in the rural Central Valley, which tend to get short shrift compared to urban regions when it comes to state transportation funding—gave California the second-highest gas tax nationwide, along with some of the priciest unleaded in the land.