Politics

Ad Check: Where did Rudy Salas fall on gas tax, minimum wage, and other votes?

Asm. Rudy Salas (D–Bakersfield) has released his latest advertisement in his effort to unseat Rep. David Valadao (R–Hanford) for the 22nd Congressional District. 

But a fact check reveals that Salas’s claims do not fully line up with the truth. 

In the advertisement, Salas – who has served in the Assembly since 2012 – said he has raised the minimum wage, is lowering the price of medication like insulin and was the only Assembly Democrat to vote “no” on raising the gas tax. 

Minimum wage

California’s minimum wage is currently set at $14 per hour for companies with less than 26 employees, which was established by Senate Bill 3 in 2016. 

SB 3 set minimum wage to increase incrementally from $10 per hour in 2017 to $15 per hour in 2023. 

When SB 3 came before the Assembly on March 31, 2016, Salas opted to not vote on the bill, abstaining instead of supporting his Democratic colleagues. 

Lowering the insulin price

While Salas says he is working to lower the price of insulin, his campaign received nearly $75,000 from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies over his time in the Assembly. 

A notable repeat donor was Eli Lilly and Company, a major American pharmaceutical company. 

Eli Lilly has donated to Salas’s campaign three times: $2,000 in 2020, $4,400 in 2018 and $1,500 in 2013. 

Salas’s claims of lowering the price of insulin do not match up with Eli Lilly’s business practices. 

Since Eli Lilly launched Humalog – a fast-acting insulin that was approved in the U.S. in 1996 – the company has raised its price by 1,219 percent per vial. 

The Gas Tax

Salas has leaned heavily on his vote against Senate Bill 1, the newest increase on California’s gas tax.

However, since then, efforts to pause, halt, or reverse the 2017 gas tax hike haven’t won similar backing from Salas.

In 2019, Salas’ neighbor – Asm. Vince Fong (R–Bakersfield) – attempted to delay the gas tax increase by amending Senate Bill 87, a transportation bill. 

However, Democrats shot Fong’s efforts down and Salas did not vote on the motion. 

Fast forward to March of this year, Asm. Kevin Kiley (R–Rocklin) attempted to suspend the gas tax, which would have decreased gas prices in California by $0.50 per gallon. 

In order to take up Kiley’s vote, the Assembly would have had to suspend the rules to take up his proposed Assembly Bill 1638 without reference to file. 

The Democrat majority voted against suspending the rules, and Salas once again did not cast a vote. 

Shortly after, Kiley again attempted in March to suspend the gas tax. 

But Salas missed a procedural vote that would have forced the suspension bill to expedited consideration. 

To top things off, Salas voted to kill AB 1638 in April ahead of the Assembly’s Spring Break.

Salas responds

The Salas camp contested the fact check of his various votes, tendering a detailed breakdown of the claims made in his television spot:

Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.