News & Politics

Gas Is Too Damn High: California Republican Senators Call for 'Gas Tax Holiday.' Will Gavin Newsom Listen?

Rick Bowmer

As I reported last week, on July 1 Californians are set to be hit with yet another gas tax increase. Sadly, Gavin Newsom is still silent.

Now, Republican lawmakers have had enough of Newsom’s silence about the crushing scheduled increases to the state’s high gas prices and gas taxes. They’re taking action to bring much-needed relief for everyday Californians.

On Wednesday, California Senate Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Scott Wilk (R-CA21) jointly sent a letter to Gov. Newsom and the Budget Chairs respectfully calling for “a gas tax holiday, [or] more specifically, a full moratorium on California’s gasoline excise tax collection…for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year.”

In the letter, the Republican lawmakers say California should use its $75 billion surplus in the state’s general fund to make up the difference because the gas tax increase punishes everyday Californians at a time when they can least afford it:

“On July 1, California’s excise tax on a gallon of gasoline will rise to 51.1 cents. At a time when the state budget is enjoying historic surpluses, Californians’ deserve a tax break, not higher taxes. The average family of four pays as much as $800 in gas taxes a year and this increase is going to cost California drivers an additional $83 million in the next year alone. Gas costs account for 14% of expenditures in the agricultural sector, and raising the gas tax would inherently raise the price of food, further resulting in not just a higher tax at the pump, but also increased costs at the checkout line.

It’s an economic reality that when the price of gas goes up, the price of everything goes up. Californians already pay the highest gas taxes and gas prices in the nation “averaging $4.22 for a regular gallon of gasoline, over $1.15 above the national average, according to AARP.”

While [California’s] legislature is currently deliberating whether to expand the Golden State Stimulus payments to more Californians, it is important to understand that any action intended to provide financial relief to Californians is undermined by the accompanying rise in gasoline excise taxes. The adverse impacts of high gas prices and taxes that we know disproportionately impacts our low to middle-income residents not only affects drivers, it increases the cost of living, including business costs and food prices, hampering our relief efforts and economic recovery.

July’s gas tax hike adds an additional burden to an already troubled economy straining to recover from the draconian 453-day COVID-19 lockdown ordered by none other than Gov. Newsom himself. Of course, to get the moratorium approved, it will take the Democrats — who control both the state Senate and Assembly — to join Sen. Wilk and the Republicans.

If Gov. Newsom really wanted to have a California that’s “ROARING back,” he should support the Gas Tax Holiday without delay. It’s is a win-win that helps not only lower-income citizens, but all Californians truly leaving no one behind.

Gas is too damn high, and Governor Newsom can do something about it; the question remains, will he?