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Californians Protest Recent Gas-Tax Increase

Rally organizers fight to repeal state’s 12-CPG addition

INDIO, Calif. -- At a gasoline station not far from the Coachella concert grounds, drivers recently lined up to take advantage of $1.99-per-gallon gas. With the local average closer to $3 per gallon, however, the discounted price was not the result of a special concert promotion or price war. Rather, it was a protest against California’s gasoline tax, which increased by 12 CPG to 41.7 CPG on Nov. 1, 2017.

According to the Desert Sun, the Jan. 22, 2018, protest was organized by the political action committee Reform California, to support its "Repeal the Gas Tax" campaign. 

“I’m proud to be part of the statewide movement to repeal this gas tax that has been devastating to working families and seniors on a fixed income,” said Kimberlin Brown Pelzer, a Republican congressional candidate and co-chair of the campaign, and a member of the East Valley Republican Women Federated (RWF). Brown Pelzer is a candidate for California’s 36th congressional district. “The politicians who supported this massive tax did not listen to the people. We can’t afford higher taxes; we’re going to get this measure qualified so that Californians can finally have their voices heard in November.”

Joy Miedecke, chairwoman of the East Valley RWF, told the newspaper that the protest was not political, but rather a statement against the financial burden the higher gas tax places on California residents. According to protest organizers, the tax increase would raise the average California family’s expenses by $700 per year.

"This is an effort by people who are concerned,” Miedecke said.

A protest rally launched at 12:30 p.m. at the Indio Arco-branded site owned by Nachhattar Chandi, president and CEO of Chandi Group USA, Indio, Calif., which owns several gas stations in the valley. The gas station offered the special $1.99-per-gallon price from 1 to 4 p.m. Local police helped direct the line of cars that grew before the gas station. Organizers also collected signatures for adding a ballot measure for the Nov. 6, 2018, election that would repeal the gas-tax increase. They planned to collect signatures at Chandi’s other area Arco-branded gas stations during the week, in advance of a Feb. 2 deadline.

"We have hundreds [of signatures] right now," Miedecke told the Desert Sun. "We are close right now so this push is really gonna help." According to Reform America, the petition has about 400,000 of the 584,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot.

"What a turn out yesterday," Brown Pelzer said in a Tweet the day after the rally. "Thank you to the hundreds of people who showed up and waited in line to sign our petition to repeal the gas tax yesterday. A big thank you to Nachhattar Chandi who was kind enough to open his Arco stations throughout the valley to support this."

Chandi told local news station KMIR that he was supporting repeal of the tax as a "matter of principle."

The same bill that increased the gas tax by 12 CPG also increased the diesel excise tax by 20 CPG to total 36 CPG, and it increased the sales-tax rate on diesel from 9% to 13%. The tax increases are expected to raise $5.2 billion each year for local and state infrastructure repairs. The Desert Sun noted that Indio city was one of the first communities to receive infrastructure funding grants that were financially supported by the increased fuel taxes.

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