SACRAMENTO — California voters will decide this November whether to get rid of higher gas taxes and vehicle registration fees imposed by the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown last year.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla said Monday that initiative supporters collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

“This is a message to the millions of forgotten Californians ignored by the Sacramento political elite, help is on the way.” — GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox

The gas tax repeal initiative is a central part of the Republican strategy to hold onto contested legislative and congressional seats in the face of Democrats motivated by opposition to President Donald Trump.

GOP officials hope opposition to the gas tax will make inroads with moderate voters and encourage conservatives to cast a ballot.

They say high gas taxes contribute to California’s high cost of living, making it harder for families to make ends meet.

Brown and other supporters say the $5 billion a year in revenue is needed to maintain roads and bridges. The campaign in support, backed largely by construction unions and contractors, is emphasizing the benefits of rebuilding crumbling roads to relieve congestion and reduce car repair needs.

Shortly after the initiative qualified for the ballot, Brown criticized it on Twitter.

Under legislation approved more than a year ago, taxes on gasoline rose by 12 cents per gallon and diesel fuel by 20 cents. Vehicle registration fees rose by $25 to $175 depending on the vehicle’s value.

The initiative would repeal all those tax hikes and require voter approval for any such increases in the future.

“This is a message to the millions of forgotten Californians ignored by the Sacramento political elite, help is on the way,” John Cox, a Republican candidate for governor who helped lead the initiative drive, said in a statement.

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