With most votes counted, L.A. voters are narrowly rejecting Measure O — the oil extraction tax — by a tally of 50.9% to 49.2%.
Voters were asked to impose a $1.44-per-barrel tax on oil production in the city, which would raise $4 million a year.
Oil producers argued (speciously) that the tax would drive up the price at the pump, and perhaps voters were persuaded by the recent spike to $4-a-gallon.
What Measure O would do is make it less economical to drill for oil in Los Angeles, which plenty of supporters saw as a benefit.
The defeat of Measure O is a weird sort of vindication for Councilwoman Janice Hahn. Hahn first proposed the idea last year, but then changed her mind in the face of opposition from business groups. She predicted that the measure would not pass. (Correct.) She was the sole vote against putting the measure on the ballot.
But then last week, in response to criticism that she had bowed to oil producers, she came out in favor of Measure O. So she can't win for losing.
This and Measure M — the marijuana tax — are the only two items on the ballot that raise revenue for the city. Measure M, which is passing, is likely to get tied up in court.
So it looks like the city will not have done much of anything today to bring in new revenue to help address next year's $350 million deficit.