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Petition drive to repeal California gas tax increase temporarily slows down

A motorist prepares to gas up her vehicle in San Rafael, Calif., in 2015. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
A motorist prepares to gas up her vehicle in San Rafael, Calif., in 2015. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Paid signature-gatherers for a ballot measure that would repeal gas tax increases may be hard to find on the streets of California this week.

Organizers say it's not a money issue, adding that they needed to briefly halt paid signature-gathering to catch up on collecting petitions from volunteers.

The petition drive has so far collected more than 327,800 verified signatures of the 587,407 needed to qualify the measure for the November ballot, according to Dave Gilliard, the political strategist behind the drive.

“We knew it was popular but the incredible pace is even faster than we expected so we outran the capacity of our verification operation over the Christmas holiday and told our crew managers to slow down so we could catch up,” Gilliard said. “We will be back up to speed by the end of this week.”

The gas tax and vehicle fee increases signed by Gov. Jerry Brown are expected to raise $5.2 billion annually for road and bridge repairs and expanded mass transit. The gas tax jumped from 18 cents to 30 cents per gallon on Nov. 1, and vehicle fees of at least $25 kicked in Jan. 1.

 “The gas tax repeal petition is breaking records for both paid and volunteer signatures and we’re using the next two weeks to catch up on validation of signatures already received,” said Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego City Councilman and conservative radio talk-show host. “As a grass-roots-funded effort we are also continuously raising funds and volunteer support. We are highly confident we’ll qualify this Initiative for the November 2018 ballot.”

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