California Proposition 91, Earmarked Transportation Funds (February 2008)

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Proposition 91 was on the February 5, 2008 ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.

Proposition 91 would have prohibited the use of funds earmarked for transportation from being put into the General Fund. It was intended to alter some of the terms of Proposition 42 (2002).

Proposition 91's supporters, after sponsoring a petition drive to qualify Proposition 91 for the ballot, concluded that the passage of Proposition 1A in November 2006 had already satisfied the goals of Proposition 91 and that Proposition 91 was therefore no longer needed.[1]

Election results

California Proposition 91
Defeatedd No4,794,77658.4%
Yes 3,427,588 41.6%

Constitutional changes

If Proposition 91 had been approved, it would have:

Text of measure

Proposition 91 2008.PNG


The ballot title was:

Transportation Funds. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.


The official summary provided to describe Proposition 91 said:

  • Prohibits certain motor vehicle fuel sales and use taxes, that are earmarked for the Transportation Investment Fund, from being retained in the General Fund. Currently such taxes may be retained if Governor issues a proclamation, a special statute is enacted by a 2/3 vote of the Legislature, repayment occurs within three years, and certain other conditions are met.
  • Requires repayment by 6/30/17 of such vehicle fuel taxes retained in General Fund from 7/1/03 to 6/30/08. Currently repayment is generally required by 6/30/16.
  • Changes how and when General Fund borrowing of certain transportation funds is allowed.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

"Increases stability of state funding for highways, streets, and roads and may decrease stability of state funding for public transit. May reduce stability of certain local funds for public transit."


The section of official voter guide devoted to arguments in favor of Proposition 91 was written by Mark Watts, the executive director of "Transportation California," and Jim Earp, the executive director of the California Alliance for Jobs, a lobbying group that represents the heavy construction trades.[2]

In this section, Watts and Earp asked voters to vote "no" on Proposition 91, saying:

"Passage of Proposition 1A means that state politicians in Sacramento can no longer take our gas tax dollars and use those funds for non-transportation purposes. Because Proposition 1A is now law, hundreds of millions of dollars in existing gasoline sales taxes are being sent each year to local communities for projects to relieve traffic congestion, improve safety, and fund mass transit. By passing Proposition 1A, voters solved the problem of state raids of our gas tax funds. Proposition 91 is no longer needed. We respectfully urge you to vote NO ON PROPOSITION 91."

Although the official campaign committee favoring Proposition 91 withdrew its support, there was an independent campaign supporting Proposition 91, led by Southern California Transit Advocates, a non-profit organization supporting public transportation. Other supporters include the California Republican Assembly and the Kern Council of Governments.[3]

Path to the ballot

See also: California signature requirements

As an initiated constitutional amendment, 694,354 signatures were required to qualify Proposition 91 for the ballot.

The petition drive to qualify Proposition 91 for the ballot was launched in January 2006 by the California Alliance for Jobs because they wished to close what they regarded as a loophole in Proposition 42 (March 2002) that allowed legislators to use funds for non-transportation purposes. While collecting signatures, the group was simultaneously working in the California State Legislature for a "legislative fix." That work resulted in the state legislature referring Proposition 1A to the November 2006 ballot, where it was approved.

Meanwhile, the Proposition 91 campaign collected approximately 1,000,000 signatures. They made the decision to submit 600,000 of these signatures, and withhold about 400,000, prior to the time that the state legislature referred Proposition 1A to the ballot. The validity rate of the 600,000 submitted signatures was higher than anticipated, and the measure qualified for the ballot.

See also: California ballot initiative petition signature costs

See also

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