March 17, 2022
California Democrats, who have raised gas taxes and vehicle license fees in recent years, are now proposing to send $400 checks to the state’s taxpayers to help defray the high cost of fuel in the latest surge, which is hitting the state’s drivers hard.
While the entire country is paying more for gasoline, thanks to surging post-pandemic demand, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the Biden administration’s hostility to oil and gas development, California’s price is the highest in the nation.
“California’s high fuel prices are partly because of taxes as well as regulatory programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Together, they added about $1.27 to the cost of a gallon of gas last month [February], according to a calculation by the Western States Petroleum Association,” the New York Times recently reported. Gas taxes will increase in June, thanks to legislation passed by Democrats under Governor Jerry Brown, ostensibly to fund road repairs in the state.
Now, Democrats are facing public outrage at the price, which hits working-class Californians hardest. Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a pause in the tax increase, and a rebate in his recent State of the State address.
The Los Angeles Times reported:
A group of Democratic state lawmakers on Wednesday called for sending a $400 rebate to every California taxpayer to help soften the blow of the recent surge in gasoline prices.
The proposal comes as pressure mounts to help Californians struggling with prices at the pump, as well as increases in the costs of food, rent and other daily essentials. Republican lawmakers have been pushing to temporarily suspend the state’s highest-in-the-nation state gas tax — 51 cents per gallon — but that appears unlikely because of opposition from Democratic legislative leadership.
“This proposed $400 rebate would cover the current 51 cents-per-gallon gas tax for one full year, 52 trips to the pump for most vehicles,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).
“Notably, we believe a rebate is a better approach than suspending the gas tax — which would severely impact funding for important transportation projects and offers no guarantee that oil companies would pass on the savings to consumers,” said the letter, obtained by The Times on Wednesday.
Republicans put a referendum on the ballot in 2018 to repeal the gas tax increase, but California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is now Secretary of Health and Human Services, gave the referendum a misleading title, and voters defeated it in Nov. 2018.