The $1.3 billion project is funded by Measure R and Measure M, the latter a half-cent sales tax which Los Angeles County voters approved in November, as well as SB 1, the 12-cent gas tax that went into effect last year and provides funds for transportation projects across the state. SB1 is now the target of a measure to repeal it, which will be on the ballot in the November general election.
Several officials at the Orange Line Van Nuys station ceremony took the opportunity to ask voters to keep the measure, saying that repealing it will put in danger this and other projects.
The Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB 1) imposes a 0.12 cent tax on every gallon of fuel and increases car registration fees by $25 to $175, depending on the value of the vehicle. It went into effect last year and was hailed by state officials as a way to help pay for an estimated $67 billion backlog in highway, bridge and road repair.
Republicans have derided the measure, arguing it simply adds money to the state coffers to be used by the government as it pleases.
Their opposition led to an effort to bring it to the ballot, and last month, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced that an initiative to repeal the so-called California Gas Tax will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
Republican Governor candidates came out against the tax and worked to gather signatures.
John Cox, the Republican gubernatorial candidate and chairman for the effort to repeal the gas tax, issued the following statement regarding its qualification.
“This is a message to the millions of forgotten Californians ignored by the Sacramento political elite, help is on the way,” Cox said. “Let this also be a message to every special interest in Sacramento, we’re coming for you. You can outspend the people, but you can’t outvote the people, because there are more of us than there are of you.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Jerry Brown announced he would defend it as he gets ready to leave office.
“This flawed and dangerous measure pushed by Trump’s Washington allies, jeopardizes the safety of millions of Californians by stopping local communities from fixing their crumbling roads and bridges. Just say no,” Brown said on Twitter.
At the June 29 gathering in Van Nuys, where state Transportation Agency officials presented the Mayor and other City leaders with a giant check for $407 million in SB 1 funds for the light rail project, several state and city officials pleaded with the public to reject the repeal of the gas tax, saying it would put this and other projects in jeopardy.
“We need to defeat the measure that’s going to be on the November ballot,” said state Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian.
“SB 1 costs the average citizen about $50 a year. That’s $4 dollars a month, two cups of Starbucks coffee. This is what people are getting worked up about,” added Councilmember Paul Krekorian. “SB 1 is a vitally important transportation measure.”