An undated file photo of a gas pump.
California, where the cost of a gallon of gasoline is more than $ 1 above the national average, increased its gas tax Thursday.
The increase is small – six tenths of a cents – but brings the nation’s already highest gas tax to 51.1 cents.
The average cost of a gallon of gas is $ 4.28, according to the AAA, compared to $ 3.10 in the U.S.
The hike is part of a road repairs bill passed by California legislature in 2017 that increases gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees to pay for bridge and road repairs. The tax is increased based on the California Consumer Price Index.
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When the bill went into effect in November 2017, it increased the state’s gas tax by 12 cents. Prices rose by a further 5.6 cents in 2019 and by 3.2 cents in 2020.
At the same time as the tax hike, California is facing a historic budget surplus of $ 75 million thanks to a booming Silicon Valley, a thriving stock market, and high taxes for high earners. California is now said to receive $ 26 billion in federal aid.
The surplus prompted Governor Gavin Newsom, who is fighting a dismissal, to propose sending cash payments to middle-class residents.
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Republican lawmakers last week called for a suspension of excise tax on gas and found the budget surplus.
“Instead of allowing Governor Newsom to run around the state handing out millions of dollars in free lottery tickets and other pals, we should instead use the budget surplus to lower the obscene excise tax on gasoline purchases,” said Senator Brian Jones, R-Santé said.
The California Republicans also criticized Thursday’s hike.
“California already has the highest gas prices and tax in the country, but Gavin Newsom and the Sacramento Democrats didn’t think that was high enough,” California GOP chair Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement. “Despite a budget surplus, the Democrats ignored calls for a gas tax vacation and instead took more of the hardworking Californians just trying to get their daily commute done. Newsom’s California is crushingly unaffordable because of democratic politics. We deserve a true leader who does not believe that the answer to good governance is more taxes. “
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