By Jeff Horseman | jhorseman@scng.com | The Press-Enterprise
February 3, 2018 at 8:58 am

And they thought passage was the hard part.

Almost a year after Democratic leaders and a coalition of business, local government and labor interests lobbied furiously to get a massive road-repair bill through the state Legislature, the same alliance is ready to defend a 12-cent-per-gallon increase in California’s gas tax that’s key to the bill’s aim of raising more than $50 billion over 10 years.

Signature-gathering is underway for a ballot measure that would repeal the gas tax hike and other revenue-boosters in the bill, known as SB 1 or the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. Organizers say they’ve already collected more than 450,000 registered voters’ signatures toward the 584,407-signature requirement needed to get the measure on the November ballot.

Should that happen, SB 1’s defenders hope to convince voters that in the long haul, a repeal would cost them more than leaving the bill in place.

Gov. Jerry Brown defended the gas tax hike in his final State of the State address Jan. 25.

“Fighting a gas tax may appear to be good politics, but it isn’t,” Brown said. “I will do everything in my power to defeat any repeal effort that may make it to the ballot.”

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