Gas Tax Impacts and what a Repeal Would Look Like

Even if the gax tax is repealed, a lot of work has been done already for a year's worth of revenue. Here's a look at the possible future of California's roads.

Posted: Jul. 12, 2018 4:21 AM
Updated: Jul. 12, 2018 11:24 AM

Chico, Calif. - This fall, California voters will have the opportunity to repeal the state gas tax increase.

While many say the burden at the pump is just too costly, overturning the policy would threaten road improvement projects across the state.

In Chico, a section of Cohasset Road has been rebuilt from East Avenue to Eaton, with repairs that include correcting sidewalk gaps and adding new bike lanes. This is just one of many already completed or active projects.

Local drivers are paying the price of it all, and of course, everyone has their own ideas as to whether or not it is worth it.

"It's ridiculous. It's getting to be too much.  Everything goes up... groceries, gas, PG&E... People have to work 2 jobs just to make it. Something's gotta give," said Chico resident Silvia Egger.

Many feel the same way Egger does, hence, the repeal efforts. Some Californians, however, say they are thrilled with the continuing improvements.

Other current projects in Butte County include reconstruction along Hegan Lane from the railroad tracks to Dayton, a repavement project in Oroville along Oro Dam Boulevard, and work along the Skyway and Pentz Road.

Gridley, Biggs, and Paradise - every city in Butte County is getting part of the tax revenue. Each little city, big city, and region has a long list of plans that are dependent upon this money.

Along the Esplanade in Chico, crumbling pavement will be placed.  You will see new asphalt, bike lanes and sidewalks from East Avenue down to the Lindo Bridge. That is  a two million dollar project, with 75 percent of that coming in from the gas tax funding, and the rest from the trash-hauler franchise money.

The work is set to begin in Spring of 2019, and it's all been green-lighted by the Chico City Council, but with many California drivers unhappy with the extra financial burden at the pump, it may not happen at all, or at least not for a while.

California Assemblymember James Gallagher says a repeal might just push lawmakers to keep the projects - but pay for them out of the general fund.

"We've had a plan going back four years ago, saying, 'here's how we would fund roads' when this gas tax is repealed. They're going to have to tell the voters, are they willing to make roads a prioirty or not? If you're willing to make roads a prioirity, you'll do it in the budget and make sure the money is there to help support these much needed projects that need to get done throughout the state," said Gallagher. 

It is the right of California voters to get to decide whether they want to put in more of their own money to get these types of projects done.

This is one tax initiative, however, that we can already see the results of. So what happens if we get rid of it? Caltrans says they'd try to finish active projects, but anything that has not started in November will be downsized or cancelled indefinitely.

The repeal, however, doesn't completely kill the projects. There are at least two options for getting the work done. Voters could initiate their own gas tax increase - or lawmakers could come up with a new way of funding the work.

A repeal may be a great hurdle - or end up as just a detour to fixing the roads in a way that more people are on board with.



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