SAN DIEGO -- San Diego public safety officers and local business and government leaders rallied Monday in opposition of Proposition 6, which would repeal the state's gas tax.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the gas tax bill into law in April 2017. State officials estimate that revenue from the 12-cent tax on unleaded fuel -- which rises to 19.5 cents per gallon in 2020 -- and a 20-cent tax on diesel fuel will raise roughly $5 billion per year for transportation infrastructure improvements and repairs.
"Here in San Diego, Prop 6 would eliminate more than $1.5 billion over the next 10 years in funds desperately needed to improve bridge and road safety, to relieve traffic congestion and fix potholes," said Michael Quigley, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs. "Prop 6 isn't just bad for our bridges and roads -- it threatens incomes for working families and small businesses, in San Diego and across California. We urge all California voters to vote no on Prop 6."
The rallying group of San Diego firefighters, civil engineers, construction workers and local leaders listed repairs to an estimated 600 miles of pavement on streets and highways around San Diego that Proposition 6 would put in jeopardy if voters pass it in November.
"As first responders, firefighters know how critical it is to make our roads and bridges safe in California," said Mike Massone of the California Professional Firefighters Association. "Fire professionals can't fight a blazing wildfire like the Lilac Fire or respond to a crisis if our roads and bridges can't get us to the emergency, and evacuees rely on safe roads and bridges if wildfires do occur. Prop 6 makes that situation even more risky by eliminating essential funding for road safety projects. Prop 6 is a threat to public safety."
The gas tax has been the topic of debate since it went into effect Nov. 1. A USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll in May found that 51 percent of registered voters want to repeal the tax while just 38 percent want to keep it. However, internal polling by the Yes on 6 campaign -- chaired by former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio -- reportedly showed that 34 percent of voters are against repealing the tax and 40 percent are undecided based on the title of the proposition: "Eliminates Certain Road Repair and Transportation Funding."
"Yes on 6 is about providing relief," DeMaio said in response to the rally. "And it's also about ending fraud in Sacramento. Voting yes gets you all of these things."
Last month, the Yes on 6 campaign accused the No on 6 campaign of improper campaign tactics when a group of contracted workers overseen by a Caltrans supervisor were caught allegedly passing out No on 6 flyers at a work site. DeMaio subsequently called for Caltrans Director Laurie Berman's resignation and an investigation of Caltrans.
"It is our understanding that these individuals were private contractors, not Caltrans employees," Berman said at the time in a statement. "Regardless, the department does not condone political advocacy or the distribution of campaign information on work project sites and is contacting its contractors to remind them of this."