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Gann Files Signatures for His Ballot Issue on Highway Funds

December 22, 1987|From the Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — Anti-tax crusader Paul Gann helped aides file signatures Monday for his initiative to use gasoline sales taxes to improve streets and highways.

Gann, after carrying an eight-pound box of petitions into the Sacramento County registrar's office, told reporters he was ready to square off with Supt. of Public Instruction Bill Honig, who supports a competing pro-schools initiative.

Both measures would modify Gann's 1979 initiative that limits spending.

Honig and other critics contend that the shift of part of the 6% sales tax on gasoline away from the general fund and into the highway fund would take money away from schools and other programs.

Change to 'User Fee'

Gann said he is confident that the proposal will make the June, 1988, ballot because the total number of signatures--estimated at about 1 million statewide--far exceeds the required 595,485 for initiatives that would amend the state Constitution.

The initiative covers only the sales tax on motor fuels, which is 6% in most counties, like that on other consumer goods, not the 9-cent-per-gallon motor fuel tax, which already goes into the highway fund. Technically, the initiative would change the sales tax on motor fuels to a "user fee," removing it from the spending limit in Gann's own Proposition 4 of 1979.

Gann said the new initiative, his sixth, would divert $600 million a year to roads. But he contended that schools and other programs would not suffer because the money would be replaced from the state's surplus or from its emergency fund.

The pro-schools initiative, called the State and Local Appropriations Limit Adjustment, would allow spending over the Gann limit by using the greater of two inflation indexes.

'Friendly Go With Honig'

Gann, 75, who reported last June that he had contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion years earlier, seemed to handle his box of petitions without strain.

Asked about his health, he said he had recently raised his weight from 135 to 150 pounds, and was feeling fit and "ready to have a friendly go with Honig."

"My friends are praying for me and my enemies are terribly disappointed," he added.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State March Fong Eu reported a green light for signature-gathering for initiatives to authorize bond sales to provide housing assistance, require the exposure to AIDS to be reported and change the alcoholic "tied house" regulations. Each needs 372,178 signatures to qualify for the November, 1988, ballot.

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