Californians Prepare For Higher Gas Prices Thanks To Governor Brown And Democrats

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Californians gear up for a Democrat-led gas tax hike passed earlier this year to raise billions of dollars for transportation repairs.

The law, which goes into effect Wednesday, imposes a 12 cents a gallon increase on citizens and raises the tax on diesel fuel by 20 cents a gallon. It also implements an additional charge to annual vehicle license fees ranging from $25 to $175 depending on the car’s value.

Motorists can expect the taxes to cost them less than $10 each month, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat who championed the April bill, told reporters at the time at the bill. He goaded the Republicans during the legislative session for opposing what he called a common-sense tax.

“The Republicans in Sacramento want to fix our roads,” Brown said at the time, but “they expect the tooth fairy to pay the $5 billion every year.” The tax could make California the state with the second highest gas tax in the country.

State Republicans are launching efforts to repeal the gas tax through a proposed Nov. 2018 ballot initiative, which if it reaches the ballot, would also require voters to approve future tax hikes. Republican lawmakers are seizing on the tax increase to lay into Democrats for being tax happy.

“Democrats like @JerryBrownGov blow smoke over GOP tax reform. Meanwhile… they go ahead and hike gas tax 12¢/gal,” California Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican, wrote in a tweet Tuesday that included a link to an article announcing the gas tax. He was referring to a GOP bill currently weaving through Congress that would reduce income tax rates on every income level.

Gas taxes are supposed to provide revenue for road construction, maintenance, repair, and improvements, but states typically divert much of the money to other sources. Gas taxes and motor vehicle license fees paid for 40 percent of state and local road spending in 2013.

Lawmakers inserted an amendment into the bill that would place an initiative on the 2018 ballot preventing the tax from being transferred to the general fund. The tax opponents are worried the state’s attorney general, a Democrat, will write summary language for the initiative and make it nearly impossible to understand its intent.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article noted that the tax increase would make California the state with the highest gas tax in the union. The state was number one on the list in 2016, but it is now the second highest as of 2017.

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