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The California legislature is going to miss a May 1 deadline to
kill the annual summer increase in its 51-cent gas tax, Gov.
Gavin Newsom’s office said.
The increase goes against Newsom’s January promise to motorists
that he would suspend any tax increases given that the state
pays the highest amount in the nation, both in taxes and per
gallon. Currently, the average price to fill up is $5.69,
according to AAA.
“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
press office said in a statement.
“The sooner we can move this package through the legislative
process, the sooner we can deliver needed relief to
Californians," the office added.
The legislature has nixed several attempts to push through a
Republican bill to suspend the entire gas tax for eight months.
Democrats cite concern over lost revenue, but the state
currently has a $46 billion budget surplus, which could increase
by $23 billion after income taxes are tallied.
Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong said he has seen no sense of
urgency from the legislature's leadership to pass a bill nixing
the gas tax increase. The state’s Department of Finance has
provided the language, but so far, nothing has been done.
“This inaction by Gov. Newsom and Assembly Democrats is
completely unacceptable,” said Fong, who is on the Assembly
Transportation Committee. “Gavin Newsom is going to allow gas
prices to go up knowing Californians are being crushed by
inflation, high gas prices, and a broader affordability crisis.”
Last week, the committee held a hearing and passed bills to
curtail freeway expansion throughout most of Southern California
and to expedite construction of wildlife overpasses, but no
mention was made of the gas tax.
“The legislature has acted on other items,” Fong said. “They are
not acting on this, which is completely mind boggling and tone
deaf. We should’ve acted on this months ago.”
Newsom could also issue an executive order if he wished,
regardless of when the deadline is imposed. Past orders have
included placing a moratorium on the death penalty, declaring
multiple states of emergency for natural disasters and COVID-19,
and spending $1 billion on masks without legislative approval.
“Helping offset the impact of inflation on California residents
remains a top priority for the Governor, and his revised budget
will include proposals to help Californians keep pace with
rising costs,” Newsom’s office said.
He has proposed a $400 gas tax rebate for each motorist in lieu
of lifting the tax. Republicans are skeptical that that money
will ever reach residents given the state’s propensity for red
“He could certainly put more effort in, for sure. It’s clearly
not a priority for the governor,” Fong said.