Rocky Roads

Here’s the deal on the gas tax repeal

See “Bracing for the ballot,” Aug. 2, for a comprehensive look at the 11 propositions on the ballot.

Who doesn’t love lower gas prices?

This election year, there’s a proposition on the ballot to roll back California’s latest gas and diesel fuel tax hikes, 12 cents per gallon and 20 cents per gallon, respectively.

But if Proposition 6 passes, Butte County and its municipalities stand to lose more than $120 million in revenue that would be earmarked for repairing failing roadways and bridges through 2027.

Prop. 6 is a Republican-led initiative aiming to repeal Senate Bill 1, which also increased vehicle registration fees. In addition, it would require voter approval for fuel tax and vehicle fee hikes in the future. Proponents—including Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox, whose campaign committee has contributed $250,000 to the Yes on Prop. 6 effort—have argued that SB 1 regressively taxes people, unfairly burdening Californians already grappling with a rising cost of living.

Prop. 6 supporters say SB 1 costs drivers $600 to $800 per year, but opponents and independent analysts say that price tag is inflated. According to The Sacramento Bee, the average California family consumes a little over 600 gallons of gas per year (the average per registered car), so the gas tax increase ranges between $153 and $215 annually and will grow with inflation.

Opposition of Prop. 6 has come from associations of firefighters, civil engineers and highway patrol workers, who have argued that repealing the gas tax will halt critical transportation projects and jeopardize the safety of the state’s bridges and roads.

In Chico, SB 1 dollars have gone to rehabilitating Cohasset Road from East Avenue to Eaton Road. Other improvements across the county have been planned for the Skyway and Oro-Quincy Highway.

The following breakdown of how much Butte County and its cities stand to lose if the gas tax is repealed—provided by Butte County Public Works Director Dennis Schmidt—was originally compiled by Michael Cohen, the principal fiscal policy adviser to the League of California Cities. (Go to for more info.)

—Ashiah Scharaga