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Gas taxes, water bond create political pickle for Schwarzenegger

January 22, 2010 | 10:44 am
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to raid the state's gasoline taxes could have some unintended consequences -- including crippling his effort to pass a water bond on the November ballot.

Confused? Welcome to the world of Sacramento politics.

In his January spending proposal, Schwarzenegger proposed a technical change in the way the state taxes gasoline sales. The tax changes would reduce funding for public transit by more than $1 billion, and put money for other construction projects in jeopardy. That's a problem for Jim Earp, a close ally of the governor who is the head of the California Alliance for Jobs,  a consortium of construction companies and workers that has backed many major Schwarzenegger initiatives in the past.

Complicating matters is the fact that Earp is campaign chairman of the governor's water bond campaign, which is scheduled to come before voters in November.

"My concern is if we're put in a completely defensive posture on transportation, it's going to impact our ability to work for the water bond," Earp said today. "It's going to be hard for me to raise a lot of money and get a lot support  if our guys keep getting shot at."

Earp said he hopes his members can reach an agreement with the governor that will limit potential funding cuts for transportation. "We have worked very closely with the governor," he said. "I agree with his basic approach to try to rebuild California. I think that he's just got some bad advice on this particular proposal."

-- Anthony York in Sacramento