League of Women Voters – proposition 51 | TheUnion.com

League of Women Voters – proposition 51

These PROS & CONS are researched and developed by the League of Women Voters of California Education. They are an unbiased presentation of the measures on the Nov. 5, 2002 California Primary Election ballot.

The League does not judge the merits of the arguments or guarantee their validity. Arguments come from many sources and are not limited to those found in the state ballot pamphlet.

League of Women Voters of California is a nonpartisan organization committed to informed and active citizen participation in government. All citizens, men and women, of voting age are welcome to join. The League has two roles: citizen education and advocacy. Our election services are carried out by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and exclude all advocacy.




Initiative Statute


Should the sales and use taxes raised from the sale or lease of motor vehicles be permanently allocated to specific transportation projects?


California spends about $16.5 billion a year to maintain, operate, and improve its highways, streets, roads, rail, and transit systems. This money comes primarily from federal and state taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel, truck weight fees, and local taxes. Also, a portion of California state sales tax (approximately 1 percent) goes to these transportation services. Most of the revenue from the state sales tax goes to the state General Fund and is available for a variety of programs including education, health, social services, and corrections. California levies a sales tax of 6 percent on most goods sold. In 2000-01 the State collected nearly $27 billion in state sales tax including about $3.4 billion from the sale and lease of new and used motor vehicles. Beginning in 2003-04, as authorized by the voters by the passage of Proposition 42, most of the sales tax revenue deriving from the sale of gasoline will be used exclusively for transportation. This will result in 4.5 percent of the total state sales tax being dedicated to transportation services.


This measure redirects to transportation-related purposes 30 percent of the sales tax revenue from the lease and sale of new and used motor vehicles that currently goes to programs supported by the General Fund. These revenues would be transferred to a new Traffic Congestion Relief and Safe School Bus Trust Fund. This new fund supports 17 new categories of programs including: mass transit and highway improvements; replacement of certain existing school buses; local street and road repairs; public facilities for transit riders; senior and disabled transportation services; bicycle and pedestrian improvements; traffic relief; mitigation of environmental effects of transportation improvements.


This measure dedicates specified General Fund revenues to state and local transportation-related purposes of about $420 million in 2002-03, $910 million in 2003-04, and increasing amounts annually thereafter depending on the increase in the sale and leasing of motor vehicles. This would result in a corresponding reduction in funds available for General Fund supported programs.

A YES VOTE means you want the sales tax and use revenues from the sale or lease of motor vehicles to be permanently allocated by law to specific transportation projects.

A NO VOTE means you do not want the sales tax and use revenues from the sale or lease of motor vehicles to be permanently allocated by law to specific transportation projects.


— The proposition will relieve traffic congestion and make needed safety improvements to California’s transportation infrastructure.

— It will reduce oil and gas pollution in our environment.

— It will improve public transit, which will reduce congestion on our roads using existing vehicle sales tax.


— Earmarks permanently nearly $1 billion in tax monies for a long list of specified programs that could not be changed by the Legislature.

— Creates 45 specific programs with little accountability, many of which benefit contributors to Proposition 51.

— Ties up the state budget forever with 17 new categories of required spending despite the current state budget crisis.

For more information:

Supporters: Yes on 51, Citizens for Traffic Safety, (916) 313-4519, http://www.voteyesonprop51.org

Opponents: California Tax Reform Association, (916) 446-4300, http://www.votenoonprop51.org

League of women voters

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