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Polls say Prop. 6 will probably fail. Reader enthusiasm for repealing the gas-tax hike suggests it has a good chance

Polls say Prop. 6 will probably fail. Reader enthusiasm for repealing the gas-tax hike suggests it has a good chance
An ad supporting Proposition 6 plays on a screen on a pump at a gas station in Santa Clarita on Oct. 24. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Californians love their fuel-burning, climate-trashing cars so much that the state’s effort to eliminate much of its carbon footprint may hit a major roadblock because of greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles. Perhaps that’s why Proposition 6, which would repeal the state’s 12-cent gas increase and other vehicle fees generating billions of dollars annually to shore up California’s roads and other transportation infrastructure, is projected by polling to lose in Tuesday’s election.

But if you read letters sent to the L.A. Times, you get a different picture, at least as far as voter enthusiasm is concerned. In fact, the debate on Proposition 6 among our letter writers has seemed immune to efforts by gas-tax supporters — including The Times Editorial Board — to debunk misleading assertions that state lawmakers have “raided” or otherwise misappropriated funds intended exclusively to fix roads.

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Personally, I’ve likened this apparent enthusiasm gap — and I really mean apparent, given that this is based solely on my observation — to what filmmaker Michael Moore observed about Michigan voters before the 2016 election. Polls then indicated Hillary Clinton was headed to the White House, but Moore’s on-the-ground observations of overheated rhetoric and the proliferation of Donald Trump lawn signs in his home state prompted him to warn that voters were far more excited about the Republican.

Similarly, from my limited vantage point, I can say that Proposition 6 is the animating issue driving some voters to the polls. What that means for the outcome Tuesday is anyone’s guess.

Beverly Hills resident Arnie Sklar says the state has plenty of gas-tax money already:

It has been pointed out that a replacement source of funds for fixing transportation infrastructure has not been identified if Proposition 6 passes.

There has long been sales and excise taxes on gasoline. That would be a replacement source, unless all gas tax money has been spent on road and bridge repair. Common sense tells me if all gas tax money had all been used this way, the people opposed to Proposition 6 would be touting it.

I can only conclude that gas tax money has been diverted to other uses and not replenished. Furthermore, everyone has glossed over the actual words of the gas tax law: The money is used for transportation, which can be defined broadly to include far more than roads and bridges.

Stephen Wampler of Tracy, Calif., ties Proposition 6 to a host of other ills:

As a native Californian, I remember when this state had the finest highway system in the world, first-rate public schools and reservoirs that provided adequate water supplies.

Today, after many years of Democratic Party and union control, California is no longer a golden state. Our roads are terrible, and we now have the second-highest gas tax in the country. Politicians siphon off road money for other spending.

California’s electricity rates are the fifth-highest in the nation, and we now have the highest effective poverty rate. If you would like to make a dent in these problems, you should vote for Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox and vote yes on Proposition 6. It’s time for a change.

Warren Larson of Sunland believes those who focus on the gas tax miss the point of Proposition 6:

The bias of The Times Editorial Board has never been clearer than in its “no” on Proposition 6 endorsement.

It reads like a press release from Gov. Jerry Brown’s office and misses the point of the proposition entirely. The importance of the proposition has little to do with the unfair 12-cent gas tax increase and everything to do with the tax being imposed from Sacramento with no voter input.

The state has always had plenty of money to maintain our travel infrastructure but no desire to do so. It’s as if public employee pensions are the kind of spending that politicians favor since they get a personal return in the form of votes.

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