Amid record gasoline prices, California’s Democratic legislative leaders said on Wednesday they were reluctant to pass Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposal to halt a gasoline tax hike that is set to take effect in July. , because the resulting $500 million goes to vital programs.
“I certainly have concerns,” and others among Newsom’s fellow Democrats in the Assembly do as well, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said. “That’s something that could potentially jeopardize a huge amount of jobs in this state, it could inhibit some economic growth.”
The hesitation of Rendon and Senate Speaker Pro Tem Toni Atkins comes with an average gasoline price of $4.72 a gallon in California, the highest in the nation and up $1.30 per compared to a year ago. The national average is $3.51 per gallon, according to AAA.
Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk said, “Sacramento Democrats are deaf if they think people don’t need a pump break.”
California taxes gasoline at 51.1 cents per gallon, second only to Pennsylvania, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators. The planned tax increase is linked to inflation, which is soaring. Last summer the tax went up to 50.5 cents per gallon.
Newsom, a Democrat, in his January budget proposed stopping the increase, at least for this year. The move would cost the state about $523 million in lost revenue that would otherwise be spent on things like roads and bridges. Newsom said the money could instead come from the state’s $45.7 billion surplus.
“We passed the gas tax for a very specific reason,” Rendon said. “We need to make sure that our transit operations are running and running smoothly. We want to make sure that our roads are safe and all that kind of stuff. We want to make sure that our construction workers, trades people building, are working on these projects.
“If we’re going to stop the gas tax, we want to make sure we have some idea of what that means for our state and our economy,” he added.
Atkins said the tax was approved in a tough vote by lawmakers in 2017 and later ratified by voters. “He did the job,” she said.
The two leaders’ comments were in response to questions at a Sacramento Press Club online forum in which they also discussed other issues before the Legislative Assembly.
Republican House Leader James Gallagher criticized Democratic leaders.
“Gasoline prices hit a new high today and it’s getting harder and harder for Californians to drive to work and take their kids to school,” he said. said in a statement.
“To say the state won’t ease this burden when we’re sitting on a $40 billion surplus is staggering,” Gallagher added. “What’s the best use of that money? The high-speed rail? The dog parks and sculpture gardens that they’ve stuck in the budget over the years?”