Supermajority Blocks Suspending the CA Gas Tax…Again

California drivers are dealing with the highest gas prices in the country, more than $1 above the national average.
 
Yet today, AB 1638, a proposal to IMMEDIATELY lower the price of gas by suspending California’s 51-cent-per-gallon tax, was once again blocked by the supermajority in the Legislature using parliamentary procedure games.

 
 
They claim this effort does not guarantee lower gas prices for Californians. This simply is not true. In Maryland, a bipartisan gas tax holiday immediately brought down prices at the pump. Last Thursday, their statewide average was $4.209/gallon. The state suspended its 36-cent-per-gallon gas tax on Friday, and by Sunday, the statewide average was $3.856/gallon.
 
They also claim “big oil companies will just pocket the savings” when in reality, in a report published in February of this year, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office projected that the vast majority of savings from a gas tax holiday would indeed be passed on to drivers.
 
The Governor recently unveiled his plan to deal with this crisis which includes a series of proposals not expected to take effect until July. They include:

  • $9 billion towards a rebate of $400 for each registered vehicle owner
  • $2 billion for free public transportation for three months
  • $500 million to promote active transportation programs like biking and walking
  • $1.75 billion to the Governor’s ZEC package for clean vehicles and charging stations

 
A gas tax rebate is a good first step, but it is based on how much the average driver fills up their tank, ignoring Californians disproportionally hit by high gas prices, like those who have to commute long distances in less fuel-efficient vehicles.
 
These rebates will also not offset the $523 million gas tax hike that is set for July 1st.
 
And as a reminder, AB 1638 would be fully paid for by using less than 6% of the state’s General Fund surplus – now estimated to be between $46.5 billion and $69.5 billion. It is critical to continue funding infrastructure, and this gas tax holiday proposal would in no way threaten those projects.

No more excuses, no more games, and no more delays. Californians do not have the luxury of waiting for help. We can and should do more. We need to suspend the gas tax and provide immediate relief now!