Pro-business groups battle Republicans over gas tax – Orange County Register

Orange and Los Angeles county business groups, usually Republicans’ allies, are part of a coalition that has warned state GOP Congress members of a “powerful effort” to counter those who support the repeal of the state’s new $52-billion package of gas and vehicle taxes for transportation projects.

The backer of one proposed ballot measure for such a repeal accused the group of “mafia tactics” and at least one Congress member is using the threat to fuel campaign fundraising.

The 10-year tax and road-improvement package signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in April includes a 12-cent per gallon gas tax hike beginning Nov. 1 and an increase in the annual vehicle registration fee of about $50 for the average car.

Opponents say the state should use existing revenue for the sorely needed road improvements. Advocates argue that the gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1994, there is no existing funding available and the hike is needed to catch up with inflation.

The letter to GOP Congress members is signed by a coalition of business, labor and government groups, including the Orange County Business Council, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties.

“With so much at stake, our organizations will have no option but to mount a robust and powerful effort in opposition to this initiative, using the voice of California business community to counter your efforts,” reads the Sept. 14 letter. It goes on to say that opposition to the transportation package will not help the GOP goal of winning seats in next year’s elections.

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