California residents voted Tuesday to keep paying a gas tax that funds road repairs and major transportation projects, including train service to LAX.
With nearly 96 percent of state precincts reporting, Proposition 6, which would have repealed gas and motor vehicle taxes, has secured just 44.7 percent of votes.
“People want government to fix things and get things done. Prop 6 would have stopped projects that affect people’s everyday lives,” Mayor Eric Garcetti, who campaigned against the measure, said in a statement.
Proposition 6 had the support of the California Republican Party and several taxpayer interest groups, who argued that the 2017 tax hike (called Senate Bill 1) burdens drivers with high fuel prices and unreasonable vehicle fees.
Opponents of the measure said repealing the tax would threaten key infrastructure projects around the state, including road repairs and major public transit improvements.
The law imposes a 12-cent-per-gallon tax on conventional gasoline and a 20-cents-per-gallon premium on diesel fuel. It also levies license fees on vehicles that can range from $25 to $175, as well as a $100 registration fee for zero-emission vehicles.
In June, California voters approved Proposition 69, which mandates that all funds collected through these taxes be set aside for transportation-related projects.
But Proposition 6 supporters have argued that the assurance provided by that measure is too vague and allows the state to use tax revenue collected from drivers to fund items that don’t directly benefit them (like rail projects and bike infrastructure).
Most of the money brought in through SB 1 will fund repairs of freeways and roads throughout the state, but a fraction will go toward other transportation-related issues. That includes more than $750 million annually toward transit agencies and $100 million for bike and pedestrian projects.
In October, Garcetti warned that if Proposition 6 passed, it would delay some of the area’s most significant transportation projects, including a train station along the Crenshaw/LAX Line that would connect passengers to the airport.
Other Los Angeles projects funded by the measure include a transit line through the Sepulveda Pass and repair work and resurfacing on the 5, 10, and 605 freeways.
If approved, Proposition 6 would have also made it far more difficult for lawmakers to tax drivers in the future. The initiative included a requirement that future vehicle fees and gas taxes be submitted directly to voters.