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Opinion

Readers React: Why do Californians cling to the idea that low gas taxes are their birthright?

VAN NUYS, CA-MAY 25, 2018: Eric Orellana of Van Nuys fills up the tank on his Subaru WRX at United
A motorist fills up his car’s tank at a gas station in Van Nuys.
( Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: So, the voters in Santa Clara County, Calif., have recalled Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky for granting a light sentence to Stanford student Brock Turner for sexual assault, and those in Orange County recalled state Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) for his vote in favor of raising the gas tax to fund repairs of our highways and bridges and the expansion of mass transit.

Voters statewide recalled Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 after he allowed the car registration fee to go back to its original rate, which for many people was three times what they were paying then. But while in office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to raise or create other taxes or fees to make ends meet.

It’s no different today. Opponents of the gas tax have no alternatives to repair our highways and bridges. We don’t think much about spending money to maintain our homes, vehicles, health and even our pets. Why should our highways and bridges be exempt? Repairs now would avoid even higher costs and safety hazards down the road.

If the gas tax is repealed, opponents would never favor new taxes or fees for such repairs. Sexual assaults are always wrong, but so are drivers who refuse to pay for the roads most of them use daily.

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David Salvaggio, Redlands

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To the editor: As columnist George Skelton pointed out, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom promoted the candidacy of his GOP rival, John Cox, so he could face a Republican opponent in the general election. That’s OK.

But when voters in Orange County exercise their democratic rights and recall Sen. Josh Newman, that’s a cynical power grab by special interests, according to The Times Editorial Board. When will The Times realize that in a state with the highest income and sales taxes in the country, the gas tax increase is deeply unpopular?

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California’s general-fund budget this year is about $140 billion. Good leaders would have found the money for improved infrastructure in the budget, perhaps by canceling the bullet train. Instead, the Democratic supermajority in the Legislature takes the easy way out and increases the gas tax and vehicle license fees because in a single-party state, there’s no check on its power.

The gas tax most heavily affects the working poor and middle-class commuters who cannot find affordable housing near their work. The gas tax increase deserves to be repealed in November.

Joel Marine, Northridge

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To the editor: Californians love their big, gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks, which are harder on the road than smaller cars, yet many of us do not want to pay an extra 12 cents for a gallon of gas to help pay for repairs and maintenance.

As a constituent of state Sen. Newman — who was recalled for supporting the gas tax, even though 80 other legislators agreed with him — I found him to be accessible at local events. He is an Army veteran who served this country and a leader who was mindful of the public’s greater good.

It is our loss that he will not be able to serve out the remaining two years of his term. It shouldn’t surprise me how short-sighted we are.

Susan Perlson, Brea

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To the editor: I suggest that all precincts and districts that vote to recall elected politicians who voted for the gas tax, as well as any precincts that vote for the upcoming proposition to repeal it, get moved to the bottom of the priority list for street repairs in their areas.

Mag Parkhurst, Westchester

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