Californians are willing to repeal the gas tax, but...

As we discussed previously, a massive new gas tax passed by the California state legislature appeared to finally be a bridge too far for most residents of the state. A movement began to repeal the tax by referendum and a petition to do so quickly amassed far more than the needed number of signatures. Now, a new poll indicates that support for the repeal measure has reached majority numbers. But there’s more going on here than just the removal of a set of taxes and fees. (LA Times)

As a new poll found a majority of California voters want to repeal increases to the state’s gas tax and vehicle fees, Gov. Jerry Brown has begun campaigning to preserve them, arguing the sacrifice is needed to fix long-neglected roads and bridges and improve mass transit.

Repeal of the higher taxes and fees was supported by 51% of registered voters in the state, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times statewide poll.

The survey found 38% of registered voters supported keeping the higher taxes, 9% hadn’t heard enough to say either way and 2% said they wouldn’t vote on the measure.

The tax package looks like it’s about to be taken off life support, but Republicans in the state hope that the referendum delivers for them in another way. With some marginal House seats being considered in play this November, campaigning on support for the repeal measure should, in theory, boost GOP voter turnout, possibly turning back some of the “blue wave” that Democrats are looking for.

It’s also left the Governor in the unenviable position of having to defend taxing his constituents more. He fumbled the first attempt at that when he resorted to name calling in an apparent fit of pique. At one news conference, he was quoted as saying, “The test of America’s strength is whether we defeat this stupid repeal measure, which is nothing more than a Republican stunt to get a few of their losers returned to Congress.”

“Stupid repeal measure?” Does the governor read the news anymore? He just called more than half the people in his state “stupid.” Let’s see how well that plays five months from now.

Some of my hopes for California were dashed, however, when another set of poll numbers came out. For a time, I’d actually begun to think that Californians were waking up and realizing that the Democrats they keep electing were taxing them to death and perhaps a new course needed to be followed. Sadly, while they oppose the gas tax, those same voters seem to be fine with jacking up taxes on the businesses who employ them.

A majority of California voters back a potential 2020 ballot measure that would increase property taxes on businesses, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

Of the 691 registered voters surveyed, 54% said they supported a measure that would ease property tax protections established by the landmark 1978 ballot measure Proposition 13. Under the proposed 2020 initiative, local governments and schools could tax larger commercial and industrial properties based on their market values rather than the values based on when the properties were purchased, resulting in as much as $10 billion annually in new revenue.

The economy in California works out fabulously for celebrities and the mega-wealthy. But for most rank and file workers, it’s virtually impossible to afford a house anywhere in the state that’s even marginally habitable. Businesses and workers are already fleeing the state in the more expensive areas, yet residents still seem to be fine with the idea of taxing “somebody else” as long as their gas prices don’t go up further.

There’s an old saying credited to Russel B. Long, which goes, “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree!” There’s some wisdom there which Californians should look into.