California lawmakers unlikely to suspend looming gas tax hike as prices continue to rise

Lawmakers in California are unlikely to postpone the state’s annual summer fuel tax hike ahead of a May 1 deadline, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office. Newsom previously indicated support for delaying the implementation of a 5.6% tax increase set to take effect on July 1 to aid California motorists who are suffering from high gas prices. The tax is meant to pay for roads and other infrastructure improvements, and the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that it will bring in $8.8 billion in revenue in the fiscal year 2021-22. Fox Business reports, it is doubtful that lawmakers will prevent the gas tax rise from taking effect because they would need to enact legislation by May 1 and have not yet introduced any bills on the matter.

According to AAA, the price of a regular gallon of gasoline topped $4.13 on Wednesday, up from $2.88 a year ago. However, California, as usual, has the highest gas costs in the country, with a gallon of gas costing $5.68 and prices as high as $6.61 per gallon in Mono County.

Alex Stack, a spokesman for Gov. Newsom stated, “It is clear now that the Legislature will not act in time to provide that immediate, limited relief, but we look forward to working with lawmakers on the Governor’s proposal for direct payments to Californians wrestling with rising prices.” Newsom’s administration has also brought up the idea of reimbursement for those who have automobiles registered in the state. California currently has the highest gas tax in the U.S., at 51 cents per gallon, and starting in July, the rate will increase to 53.9 cents per gallon.

In January, California state Republicans proposed a plan that would suspend the gas tax immediately to counteract rising prices and fund the projects with the state’s $45 billion surplus, but the idea failed to get enough votes in March.

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