California Gas Tax Jumps 12 Cents

Opponents aim to recall fuel-tax increase and its supporters

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Double-digit increases this past week in California’s fuel excise taxes have triggered efforts to recall them and their legislative supporters.

The state’s Democrat-led legislature passed Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), a bill that increased the excise tax on gasoline by 12 cents per gallon (CPG) to 41.7 CPG on Nov. 1, and the diesel excise tax by 20 CPG to total 36 CPG. The bill, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), also increased the sales-tax rate on diesel from 9% to 13%. The tax increases are expected to raise $5.2 billion each year for infrastructure repairs, Los Angeles Times reported.

The bill will also raise annual vehicle fees in 2018, and introduces a $100 annual fee for electric-vehicle (EV) owners to pay, beginning in 2020. The California Department of Transportation estimated that the average Californian would pay about $10 per month more in increased fuel taxes and vehicle fees.

“These investments will create good-paying jobs, improve traffic safety and expand public transit access in communities across the state—without burdening our future generations with debt,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León (D).

However, Republicans who opposed the bill slammed the tax increases. "The price we pay to fill our tanks is not so much the cost of gasoline itself—now in abundant supply—but is calculated for the benefit of power-hungry politicians,” said U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in a statement. Republicans are hopeful the large fuel-tax increases will be a powerful tool in the upcoming 2018 elections, the Times reported

Rohrabacher was one of 11 Republican legislators to sign a letter saying they supported repealing the fuel-tax and vehicle-fee increases. They have proposed two initiatives to repeal the bill. One initiative that aims to get on the Nov. 6, 2018, ballot would repeal the fuel-tax and vehicle-fee increases and amend the state constitution so that voters must approve any future tax increases. 

Meanwhile, The California Independent Oil Marketers Association (CIOMA), which opposed the bill, noted on its Facebook page that the timing of the fuel-tax increases is hiding their full impact from consumers.

“Don't let prices fool you,” CIOMA's Facebook post stated. “Lawmakers cleverly coincided the increase with the day we switched to our cheaper winter fuel blend. Even if you didn't see a spike, you are paying more for your gas today thanks to your elected officials.”

CIOMA further pointed out that higher diesel prices will also make every commodity that relies on the fuel for distribution more expensive too.

Meanwhile, efforts are underway to recall supporters of SB 1. According to the Times, Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego City Council member who now hosts a conservative radio talk show, is collecting signatures to trigger a recall election of state Sen. Josh Newman (D), who voted for the bill. 

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