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2018 electionCalifornia in Congress

Reacting to 'political threats,' California congressional Republicans write to support repeal of state gas tax increase

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is one of 11 Republicans in Congress to say Thursday they support repeal of a gas tax increase. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is one of 11 Republicans in Congress to say Thursday they support repeal of a gas tax increase. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

Reacting to what they deemed “political threats” from a coalition of business and civic groups, 11 of the 14 Republican members of Congress from California said in a letter Thursday that they support the repeal of recent increases to the state’s gas taxes and vehicle fees.

The group of lawmakers, led by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), was responding to a recent letter from Fix Our Roads, a coalition of businesses and civic organizations that support the gas tax increases in Senate Bill 1. The group, which includes the League of California Cities and Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, warned lawmakers of a “robust and powerful” campaign against any initiative to repeal the increases. It added that such an effort would become a distraction for Republican incumbents seeking reelection.

In their letter supporting the law's repeal, Republican lawmakers wrote: “We agree that we need to take significant steps to improve transportation in California; however, we object to the policy contained in SB 1 as well as the process in which it was enacted.” 

The measure, signed by the governor in April, will raise taxes and fees to bring in $5.2 billion annually for the first 10 years to fix roads and bridges and improve mass transit. Two initiatives have been proposed to repeal the tax bill.

“The passage of SB 1 represents a bailout for our transportation programs have been habitually raided, mismanaged, and not made a priority in Sacramento,” the lawmakers said. “Hard working California taxpayers should not be on the hook because democrats in Sacramento have failed to make transportation a priority.”

The members of Congress also objected to approving tax increases without a vote of the people.

“Instead, SB 1 proponents in the Legislature chose to simply take more money out of the pockets of California taxpayers without asking them,” the Republicans said.

The lawmakers wrote that allowing the “gas tax bailout” would encourage Democrats to raise taxes and fees on other industries for other services. They called the legislation “bad policy” because it limits the ability of the state to spend money on increasing the capacity of the road system.

“When the Fix Our Roads coalition is done making political threats and is interested in discussing real, long term solutions to our transportation challenges, please know that our doors are always open,” concluded the letter, also signed by Reps. Ken Calvert of Corona, Darrell Issa of Vista, Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, Devin Nunes of Tulare, Tom McClintock of Elk Grove, Duncan Hunter of Alpine, Doug LaMalfa of Richvale, David Valadao of Hanford, Mimi Walters of Irvine and Steve Knight of Palmdale.

Kathy Fairbanks, a spokeswoman for the Fix Our Roads coalition, said the group appreciated that the congressional Republicans are willing to have a dialogue.

“Raiding transportation funds is bad for California. It will result in the repeal of vital transportation improvement projects all over the state, including in each of their districts,” she said in response to the letter.

4:12 p.m. This article was updated with a response from Fix Our Roads.

This article was originally published at 3:41 p.m.

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