Prop. 69 would block lawmakers raiding SB 1 fuel taxes and fees. Vote yes on Prop. 69.


The following is a summary of an editorial piece by the Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards:

It’s hard to figure why anyone would oppose Proposition 69.

Placed on the June 5 ballot by state lawmakers, the measure was designed to assuage public concern that money from California’s new fuel tax and vehicle fee increases [enacted through SB 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017] would be misspent. Prop. 69 would require that all funds collected go for transportation purposes.

Sure, there were reasons to oppose the tax and fee increases. Some folks didn’t like the amount of the increases, or any increases for that matter. Others didn’t like which transit and road projects would get the money. And there were reasons to support them. Our roads are rapidly deteriorating. Gas taxes have failed to keep up with rising costs of construction. Public transit needs a boost so it can lure commuters out of their cars.

There could still be a ballot fight over whether to repeal the increases. Opponents are now collecting initiative signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. But that fight isn’t relevant to the discussion of Prop. 69.

Whether you are for or against the tax and fee increases, wouldn’t you rather see the money go to transportation than the state general fund and politicians’ pet projects?

The answer is obviously yes. And that’s why voters should support Prop. 69.

Some might also ask why this is even necessary. After all, the Legislature and governor adopted the tax and fee increases. Couldn’t they have earmarked it for transportation?

The answer is that when lawmakers pass rules to protect the money, they can just as easily undo that protection later. But if voters place spending restrictions into the state Constitution — as Prop. 69 would do — it then takes voters to reverse it.

The state Constitution already required that portions of the tax and fee increases be spent for transportation. Specifically, it required that revenues from the 12-cents-per-gallon increase in the gas tax, the 20-cent-per-gallon increase in the diesel fuel tax and the annual fee charged owners of electric cars be spent for transportation. Prop. 69 ensures the constitutional restrictions also apply to revenues from the new diesel sales tax, which was increased from 9 percent to 13 percent, and to new vehicle registration fees that average $51 annually.

A small group of opponents to the measure still seem primarily upset about the tax and fee increases. And they’re upset the money would go toward more than roads, that funding for public transit and alternative transportation like bike lanes would be included.

But the issue with Prop. 69 is not what sort of transportation projects to fund but to ensure the new tax and fee money goes to transportation.

The measure might not be everything opponents and some supporters might want. But its defeat would be worse — opening the door to spending of some of the new money for any government program.

Voters should make sure that doesn’t happen. Vote Yes on Prop. 69.

Southern California Partnership for Jobs supports infrastructure investment. We advocated for the passage of SB 1, a new transportation funding source that is becoming ever more critical for California. We believe that all funds raised through SB 1 should be used for transportation as intended and support the passage of Prop. 69.