The first phase of former Carl DeMaio’s plan to save the Golden State’s Grand Old Party (and himself) will appear on the November 2018 ballot as Proposition 6, the “Voter Approval for Future Gas and Vehicle Taxes and 2017 Tax Repeal Initiative.”
If approved by voters in November, the measure would amend California’s Constitution to require any gas and car tax added after January 1, 2017 be approved by voters and would repeal SB 1, the gas tax and vehicle fee hike signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2017 after it gained a two-thirds majority in both legislative houses.
Regardless of whether this year’s measure succeeds or fails, there’s another one waiting in the wings for the 2020 election. DeMaio told the Sacremento Bee he’s calling phase two the “Robin Hood initiative — stealing our money back.”
A key element in such campaigns involves building a narrative around the concept of something being ‘taken’ from voters by unseen forces, also called “government bureaucrats” or “Sacramento politicians.”
Since the GOP’s past support for anti-immigrant ballot initiatives and candidates has ruined their brand in California, DeMaio and his team are hoping they can rebuild the organization’s clout by portraying funding for transportation infrastructure as being tainted.
In the case of Proposition 6, the ‘theft/taint’ rationale starts with suggesting the two-thirds approval by both houses of the legislature for increasing transportation taxes isn’t enough. It would add a requirement of two-thirds voter approval at the ballot box.
DeMaio and his crew have filed 16 public records requests related to government waste since making the fall ballot. What they’re looking for, based on past performance, are employees with high salaries, along with material arguing for privatization of whatever parts of the California Department of Transportation they can get away with.
The campaign has set up a whistleblower site and already says they’ve found a bus driver for a local transit system being paid a salary of $227,181. DeMaio’s past claims of ‘outrageous’ pay have turned out to be based on cherry-picked information, like the pension of a San Diego “librarian” who was actually an executive manager.
The bottom line of the Yes on 6 campaign will be its claims made about financial burdens. Right now I understand that number to be $500 annually “stolen” from “ordinary” Californians.
Like the failed claims made recently by the right about the long-term costs of providing universal health care for Americans ($32 trillion in costs, which actually is a $2 trillion savings over doing nothing), this dollar amount for the costs of SB1 ignores the other side of the ledger.
From the Orange County Register:
What Cox, DeMaio and other repeal advocates don’t say is that for most motorists, the gas tax increase represents a pretty good investment. The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, normally hypercritical of tax increases, reports that every dollar spent on road, highway and bridge improvements saves $5.20 in car repair costs, while improving road safety and fuel economy.
Plus, the non-partisan legislative analyst reported while the gas tax increase was under consideration that rough roads cost the average California driver about $700 a year for extra repairs.
The law threatened with repeal also will see electric vehicle owners start contributing to road maintenance funding for the first time in 2020, at $100 per year. That’s less than the average of $280 a year now paid by gasoline users, but it’s a start toward zero emission vehicles paying their fair share for using California roads.
The effort to build support for this ballot measure included a successful recall of State Senator Josh Newman, a vulnerable Orange County Democrat.
From the Union-Tribune:
One of 81 legislators who backed the tax hike, Newman found himself in the political crosshairs because his District 29 had long been a conservative stronghold. He will be replaced by former Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, whom he narrowly edged out for the seat in 2016.
“Sacramento politicians must be flipping out in panic,” said Carl DeMaio, the conservative talk radio host who has spearheaded the campaign to overturn the gas tax. “Not only are we going to repeal the tax, but it’s going to kick several politicians out of Sacramento,” he added. “That is going to be a sweet victory.”
If Democrats are sweating, they have yet to show it. “Carl and his fellow Trumpites don’t care about California’s crumbling roads and horrible congestion, but the voters of California do,” said Gov. Jerry Brown’s spokesman Evan Westrup. “See you in November.”
Newman’s replacement wasted no time in getting to work for her benefactors:
From the Los Angeles Times:
Sen. Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) wrote to California Department of Transportation officials last week to protest the signs as “inappropriate,” given voters might repeal the tax hike in November with Proposition 6.
“No matter what the issue, it is not the job of taxpayer-funded state departments to influence public opinion on matters considered on the ballot,” Chang wrote in a letter to Laurie Berman, the director of Caltrans.
The signs feature a logo for “Rebuilding California,” the name given to the state’s project for allocating some $5.2 billion in new revenues from the law, which went into effect last fall. Motorists now pay higher gas and diesel taxes, and the state imposed a new annual vehicle registration fee. The revenue will go toward repair projects around the state, some of which have already begun.
Of course, the real reasoning behind having Proposition 6 on the ballot has nothing to do with “ordinary” Californians.
This year’s ballot measure, in addition to further raising DeMaio’s political profile, is mostly about driving the GOP base to the polls on November 6th. It’s more about keeping Republican control of the US Congress–to enable Trump–than transportation or taxes.
How do I know this? Follow the money. The California GOP has bet the house (pun intended) on this, donating $465,000 in support of this effort. And then there are these guys:
The coalition against Proposition 6 includes some unlikely bedmates, including Chamber of Commerce groups and organized labor.
Opponents have already raised five times (plus) more than supporters. And even though current polling suggests otherwise, the ad campaign against Prop 6 will be intense.
Whether Prop 6 passes or not isn’t the point for DeMaio’s gang. Building the State GOP for the long-term and defending all the “winning” going on in Washington is the name of the game.
After 2018’s election is over, DeMaio’s ‘Robin Hood’ idea for the 2020 ballot will be rolled out. Again, the idea isn’t to win. Next time around, my gut tells me this ballot measure will be about setting up the 2022 gubernatorial contest.
…a Sacramento Bee analysis determined that the prospective initiative would require major spending cuts to other programs across state and local budgets. Opponents say it is unrealistic.
“It’s silly. It’s unworkable. It’s unconstitutional,” said Michael Coleman, fiscal policy adviser for the League of California Cities, which is campaigning against Proposition 6.
“It’s not a serious proposal.”
The concept on the boards for 2020 involves ensuring the supremacy of automobile travel by starving transit projects, banning Project Labor Agreements, and possibly exempting major infrastructure projects from state environmental regulations.
A victory would be a triple win for the GOP: more pollution, lower wages, and fewer trees.
Losing just means Carl Demaio’s the frontrunner in 2022. Not bad for a guy whose political career is mostly about losing.
Speaking of deplorables:
Very proud of being Endorsed by @carldemaio
I’ll continue to campaign to #RepealGasTax at the same time as #ChulaVistaMayor
I’m 💯% #Conservative & I’ll fight the #SpecialInterests aka #4thAvenueSwamp to #MakeChulaVistaGreatAgain #MCVGA #MAGA #ChulaVistahttps://t.co/wiriFYFNNW
— Hector Gastelum (@HectorVote) May 10, 2018
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