Letter to the Editor: BOE gas tax, redistricting

Dear Editor:

I respectfully disagree with Paul Mitchell’s opinion in the April 24, 2018, Capitol Weekly article,“CA120: Political intrigue: BOE’s redistricting and the gas tax.” My vote against raising the gas tax was a matter of policy, not politics.

As I stated at the hearing and in my press release, I voted against the gas tax increase for two reasons:  because the agency’s calculation of the tax was wrong, and because my constituents could not afford another gas tax increase, given the recent enactment of the $52 billion Gas Tax and Vehicle License Fee legislation.

The agency, by their own admission, failed to take into consideration that a vote for an additional 4 cent increase in gas tax would raise the total taxes and fees on gasoline to 80 cents a gallon, effective July 1, 2019, including the 12-cent increase that took effect Nov. 1, 2017 — nor did it consider its impact on consumption.

Further, the agency failed to consider in their projections that SB 1 relieved the state Board of Equalization of its future ability to lower the gas tax if and when necessary. As such, the increase in the gas tax would have been permanent, and arguably only the Legislature has the authority to raise taxes.

I would have preferred the alleged “Mr. 41” strategy to force amendments to the gas tax measure and allow the agency to get it right, but they refused. Accordingly, I voted no – based on the law, the facts, and in favor of many of my constituents who could not afford an additional $600 million gas tax increase.

In reference to the redistricting discussion, the boundary lines initially established by the Redistricting Commission for the now Third District of the Board of Equalization encompassed areas in Orange County that were not contiguous with the demographics in the remainder of the district and were therefore in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.

With the support of several ethnic groups and others and for a variety of non-political reasons, the boundaries were eventually redrawn to properly reflect my constituency, consistent with the law.  Coincidentally, instead of having only two Democratic seats as reported, four of the BOE seats had a Democratic majority, including the Controller’s and the First District’s (with a 3% Democratic majority).

It might be nice to have the power people claim I have, but my only leverage was knowing the law.

Jerome Horton,
Chair, state Board of Equalization



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