Veteran tax crusader Paul Gann teamed up with an Orange County assemblywoman Monday to back a state ballot measure that would forbid the state from using more than $500 million a year in gasoline sales tax revenue for anything other than road projects.
Gann and Assemblywoman Doris Allen (R-Cypress) told reporters that if voters pass the measure in the June, 1988, primary, the state's entire portion of gasoline sales tax revenue--almost $700 million last year--would have to be earmarked specifically for highway and road construction and repair. The state is not now obligated to spend any more than $110 million of the money on highway construction, Allen said.
Specifically, the proposed measure would wipe out the state's discretion to use nearly 80% of the sales tax revenues from gasoline for any purpose it chooses. (The remainder of the gasoline sales tax money is passed on to cities and counties.) The Allen-Gann proposal would not affect the 9-cents-per-gallon excise tax, which the state collects in addition to the sales tax and which is specifically earmarked for transportation purposes.
While the signature drive to qualify the proposed measure for the ballot proceeds, Allen said she will make a parallel effort to win backing of two-thirds of the Legislature to place the issue on the ballot. Allen said she sponsored similar legislation last year that died in committee.
Gann's support of Allen's measure is significant because the tax fighter's grass-roots network would stand a good chance of qualifying a ballot issue through a signature drive. With the exception of an unsuccessful attempt to qualify a pay-capping measure in 1976, Gann has been involved in five signature drives that led to statewide ballot initiative measures--four of which were passed by voters.
The most recent Gann-sponsored attempt, Proposition 61, was rejected by a 2-1 ratio last November. That measure would have placed a ceiling on the salaries of state and local government officials.
Gann said in a Los Angeles news conference that the latest measure, in addition to earmarking gas-tax revenues, also would head off what he sees as attempts by state lawmakers to circumvent a government spending limit he authored in 1979. That law, passed overwhelmingly by voters as Proposition 4, establishes a formula based on population growth and inflation that limits the amount state and local government spending can increase each year.
"The Legislature has had seven years to prepare for implementation of my Proposition 4," Gann said. "This year, the cap on spending becomes operative and we intend to see that the Legislature abides by the people's mandate."
To qualify the measure, Gann said he will need to collect more than 600,000 signatures of registered voters, an effort he said will probably not begin until mid-March.