US Election 2018 California Gas Tax

Protestors gather at a rally and hold signs on behalf of a campaign against Proposition 6 during a visit and support by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday in Palo Alto. Proposition 6, which would repeal an increase in gas tax and vehicle fees for transportation projects in California.

LOS ANGELES — California voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to repeal a gasoline tax increase that the Legislature approved to fund road and transportation projects.

Proposition 6 failed after Democrats campaigned to preserve $5 billion a year to fix roads and improve transit. The repeal proposal was trailing with 45 percent of the vote after about 4.2 million votes were counted.

The Republican-backed initiative sought to repeal increases in fuel taxes and vehicle fees that are expected to fund $52 billion in transportation projects over a decade. It also would have required voter approval for future gas tax hikes.

GOP officials argued that California has grown too expensive and state lawmakers should spend money more wisely. They hoped the measure would drive Republican turnout in contested state and congressional races.

Democrats and construction industry and union leaders maintained the revenues are vital to upgrade California's crumbling roads and bridges.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the transportation deal last year. Much of the money is generated through a 12 cent-per-gallon boost in gasoline excise taxes that took effect last November.

Members of both political parties agree that California needs a transportation overhaul as suburban commuters clamor for freeway fixes and city dwellers demand mass transit. But how to pay for it is in dispute.

Democrats argued that the gas tax increase was crucial to cover the costs of much-needed road repairs. With more fuel-efficient cars, they say drivers don't need to buy as much gasoline as they once did, and that means fuel tax revenues aren't keeping pace with the state's transportation needs.

Republicans said California should use existing tax revenues to cover road and freeway fixes.

San Diego talk radio host and former councilman Carl DeMaio pushed the initiative after leading a successful recall campaign against a Democratic state lawmaker from Orange County over his vote for the fuel tax increase.

DeMaio argued that the ballot title for the initiative — which began with "eliminates certain road repair and transportation funding" — was misleading and sent out mailers styled as election "corrections" to try to convey to voters the measure was a repeal.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra — who drafts ballot titles in California — said courts had sided with him on another gax tax repeal measure with a similar title that didn't qualify for the ballot.

OTHER PROPOSITIONS

Californians soundly rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that would have allowed more rent control as a way to alleviate the state’s housing crisis.

Proposition 10 was losing by a 30-point margin with more than 3.6 million votes counted.

It was one of the most costly and contentious items on the ballot, attracting more than $100 million in campaign contributions.

Opponents said the measure would have lowered real estate values and further decreased the state’s already limited housing supply by discouraging building. Supporters argued more rent control would protect low-income people from being priced out of their homes.

The failure of the measure preserves restrictions limiting rent control on apartments built after 1995, single-family homes and condominiums. It also preserves rules preventing cities and counties from telling landlords what they can charge new tenants.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit known for backing controversial ballot measures, provided most of the money supporting Proposition 10. The real estate industry funded the bulk of the opposition campaign.

California has a disproportionately high rate of homelessness, and nearly a third of California renters spend more than half their income on rent, according to the state’s housing agency.

A California ballot measure to expand a property tax break for older homeowners who move trailed in early returns Tuesday.

With about 3.2 million ballots counted Tuesday, Proposition 5 was behind 56 percent to 44 percent.

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