Vote no on Prop. 6 gas tax repeal

The single biggest complaint Petaluma residents have about the city is the horrendous condition of the streets.

The single biggest fix to the horrendous condition of Petaluma’s streets is SB1, an increase in the gas tax that state legislators approved last year.

SB1, which is generating $5 billion annually statewide, has already made a significant impact on local streets. Petaluma is getting a $1 million annual injection, which it has used to repave 4th Street, 6th Street and Caulfield Lane. Many more miles of street repairs are planned with the projected revenue from SB1.

Besides local streets, the 12-cent gas tax increase is improving the state highway network, which has been woefully neglected. Work is set to start on widening the stretch of Highway 101 through Petaluma thanks to an $85 million infusion from SB1. That project will also facilitate the badly needed Rainier crosstown connector.

This much needed funding source, however, is under threat. Proposition 6, a ballot measure this November, asks voters to repeal the gas tax increase. Petaluma residents should vote “no” on Prop. 6, if they would like to see Highway 101 widened and the city’s streets fixed in their lifetime.

Prop. 6 does not offer an alternative to fixing the state’s transportation infrastructure, it would merely repeal the gas tax increase that we are already accustomed to paying. Defeating this proposition would not increase taxes, it would just keep the gas tax at the current level.

The measure is a thinly veiled cynical attempt to drive conservative voters to the polls and protect several at-risk Republican House seats, mostly in Southern California. Without a strong top-of-the-ticket Republican in either the Senate or gubernatorial race, Republican strategists worried that conservative voters would stay home. So they launched the gas tax referendum, a pocketbook issue they hope will turn out the base.

It’s true, nobody likes to pay more at the pump. But the gas tax is the most equitable way to fund road and highway repairs. A simple user fee, it charges more to the people who use the roads more. If you don’t drive, you won’t pay a dime.

Before last year, the state gas tax hadn’t been raised in two decades. Changing driving habits and more fuel efficient vehicles meant that the state was not collecting enough gas tax to keep up with the all of the infrastructure’s needs.

SB1 pegged the gas tax to inflation, so it should work as intended going forward. That is, if voters don’t repeal it.

SB1 created an important funding source for state and local roads, and voters should reject the cynical attempt to repeal it. The Argus-Courier recommends a “no” vote on Prop. 6.

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