California judge revises description of gas tax repeal ballot initiative

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On April 28, Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law SB 1 also known as Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.  The recently enacted law authorizes tax increases on diesel and gas starting on January 1, 2018.

The excise tax on gas will increase $0.12 while $0.20 on diesel. The sales tax on diesel will also increase by 5.75%.  In addition, drivers will pay a new annual vehicle fee between $25 and $175. The fee depends on the value of the car. The fee on zero-emission vehicles will be $100.

Judge removes phrase “repealing revenues”

In his final ruling, Judge Frawley said Becerra removed the confusing phrase “repealing revenues” but the ballot title is still flawed. He pointed out that Becerra used the confusing term “revenues” to refer to “taxes and fees.”

According to the judge, the attorney general argued that the term “revenues” is “more accurate.” Judge Frawley described Becerra’s argument “remarkable” since the SB 1 raises new “revenues” solely by increasing taxes and fees.”

Judge Frawley pointed out, “The initiative would repeal those taxes and fees and only those taxes and fees—no other revenues. Thus, the terms taxes and fees are precise.”