SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Delivering a parting gift to outgoing Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, California voters rejected a Republican-led attempt to repeal Brown’s recently enacted $52 billion transportation plan known as the gas tax.
Californians will continue paying 12 cents more per gallon for gasoline as well as increased motor-registration fees, after 55 percent of voters rejected Proposition 6 as of Wednesday morning. The now voter-approved tax is expected to generate over $5 billion annually over the next decade for highway and bridge repairs.
The fourth-term governor introduced the plan in early 2017 and the Legislature fast-tracked it for passage just eight days later, raising state gasoline taxes for the first time in 23 years.
Brown, 80, claimed victory late Tuesday night in downtown Sacramento and thanked voters for agreeing to the tax.
“I’m going to have to say this is one of the most significant votes in America tonight, because where else have people voted to tax themselves to pay for what they need?” Brown pondered. “On to victory, let’s keep building California.”
Led by Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the Proposition 6 campaign used the repeal effort to boost GOP turnout across the Golden State. But in the final days before the election, the proponents ran out of cash and could only watch as Brown and the opposition campaign bombarded the airwaves with expensive advertisements. The opponents outraised the GOP backers by a nearly 10 to 1 margin and ultimately killed the measure.
Los Angeles resident Amy Wiwuga said Proposition 6 was the second most important item on the ballot after the congressional races. She suggested the GOP used “ploy tactics” to qualify the measure and convince conservatives to vote.
“I’m mad they think they could play games with public safety to get this initiative on the ballot to get conservative voters out,” Wiwuga said.
Orange County voter Andrew Smith drives at least 40,000 miles a year for work and isn’t convinced state leaders will actually put the new tax to good use. He says he voted in favor of Proposition 6 and took a jab at the state’s majority party.
“The way Democrats have moved the money around for years, it’s dirty,” Smith said.
In a blow for affordable housing and tenants’ rights advocates, voters also overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 10. The measure would have cleared the way for local governments to enact new rent-control policies.
Proposition 10 campaigns eclipsed the $100 million spending mark since the measure qualified for the state ballot last June, making the rent control fight one of the most expensive propositions in state history. Backers, including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its founder Michael Weinstein, were outspent nearly 3 to 1 by a coalition of apartment building owners and real estate companies.
Apartment owners accused Weinstein of being an “anti-housing activist” and called the initiative misleading and dangerous for middle-class homeowners. Nearly 62 percent voted against Proposition 10.
“The stunning margin of victory shows California voters clearly understood the negative impacts Proposition 10 would have on the availability of affordable and middle-class housing in our state,” said Tom Bannon, CEO of the California Apartment Association, in a statement.