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Vote 08: The 'Orphan Proposition'

Eyewitness News coverage of Vote 08
January 7, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
When voters go to the polls in next month's California primary they'll find what's being called the "Orphan Proposition." Prop. 91 would ensure our gasoline taxes only go to fund transportation projects. The people who put it on the ballot now want you to vote against it.The sun, the beaches, the mountains -- is there anything in Southern California that isn't awesome? OK, Los Angeles is certainly scarred with horrible traffic issues.

But to fund more freeway lanes and expand mass transportation, California taxes every gallon of gasoline we pump into our cars and trucks.

But some transportation activists say those gas taxes are being wasted by state lawmakers.

"The legislature still thinks that that is money they can take for whatever they want," said Kymberleigh Richards, Southern Calif. Transit Association.

And that's where Proposition 91 comes into play.

Jim Earp, executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, worked hard to create the proposition, but in a bizarre twist, he now wants it dead.

"There's no additional value really to passing Proposition 91," said Earp.

You see, Proposition 91 is a rogue proposition. It was created as a threat to get legislators to stop using gasoline tax revenues for anything but transportation projects. And it worked.

A group headed up by the governor and legislators sponsored Proposition 1A back in 2006, which voters overwhelmingly approved. But Prop 91 refused to die. That's because more than 1 million signatures supporting it had already been turned in to election officials, qualifying it for the ballot.

"Once you put the signatures into the counties for that process, they're not yours anymore -- it belongs to the state," said Earp.

Now Earp may say that the current law protects gas-tax revenues, but activist Kymberleigh Richards says while Prop. 1A may have made it harder for the legislature to dip into gas-tax money, Prop. 91 would make it practically impossible.

"Prop. 1A partially closed the loophole in Proposition 42. Prop. 91 closes it so tightly that it wouldn't be worth the legislature or the governor's time to attempt to divert those funds," said Richards.

The odds are against 91, though. Hardly anyone other than Richards has publicly supported it, and if you read the California Voter Guide, you'll find the argument in favor of 91 actually tells voters to vote no.


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