Last Year’s SB1 Gas Tax Increase: Yes or No


SB1 was enacted by the State of California on April 28, 2017. Per
SB1, beginning on November 1, 2017 Californians started paying an
additional twelve cents a gallon for gasoline and an additional twenty cents
a gallon for diesel fuel. SB1 also provides that beginning on July 1, 2020
these taxes will rise with inflation.

Where will the SB1 money go? According to an April 28, 2017 article in
the Sacramento Bee, 70% of the funds raised by SB1 will go to the
Roadway Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program, State highways and
local streets and roads, with the remainder divided up among public transit,
goods movement, traffic-reduction measures, bicycle/ pedestrian
improvements and miscellaneous administrative and other uses.

Prop 6:

California Proposition 6 will be on the November 6, 2018 ballot. If
Prop 6 passes it will repeal SB1. So the California voters will have a choice
in November: Should the higher taxes enacted under SB1 be kept or
should they be scrapped?

BATWG has completed an evaluation of SB1 and Prop 6. Here is a
summary of the pros and cons:

The Case for keeping SB1 in place:

Many parts of California suffer from an unacceptably high amount of
traffic. Increasing the cost of a commodity reduces the demand for that
commodity. Raising taxes on fossil fuel as SB1 does will result in less

The gas tax is an important funding source, badly needed to maintain
highways and strengthen viable public transit systems. California has many
unmet highway maintenance, highway expansion and public transit
needs. Over the next 10 years SB1 will provide an estimated $52 billion to
help meet those needs.

Prop 6 and the efforts to repeal SB 1 reflects an obsession against
everything governmental. When the price of gasoline rises by 30 to 50%
no one bats an eyebrow. We just grumble and pay. But when California’s
government raises the tax on gasoline by 3.5% to fix deteriorating
roadways and make other necessary transportation improvements, it’s as if
the sky were falling.

The Case for scrapping SB1:

As indicated above, approximately 70% of the funds raised by SB1 are
slated to go to roadway maintenance and “upgrade”. It has been shown
time and again that expanding highways induces more driving which in the
long run makes Bay Area congestion worse, particularly in cities and other
urbanized areas at the ends of the highways.

Over the last 25 years tens of billions of tax payer dollars have passed
through the hands of Bay Area politicians and transportation
officials. Much of this money has been wasted on anachronistic highway-
expansions such as MTC’s “HOT Lanes”, and on politically-inspired
pork. Neither has done a thing to reduce Bay Area traffic congestion and
the Region’s poorly integrated public transit systems continue to
languish. As a result, the Greater Bay Area is now the first or second most
traffic congested region in the country.

The question is: will the funds raised by SB1 be used wisely or will it be
just more of the same?

On November 6 the California voters will have a critically important
decision to make. If you think last year’s tax increase should remain,
note No on Prop 6. If you think it should be repealed vote Yes on
Prop 6.

This article was featured in Newsletter Issue 4. Click here to go back to the newsletter.