Even as gas prices remain elevated in the United States, the state of California will fail to suspend an upcoming increase in its gas tax.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) initially supported the suspension of a 5.6% gas tax hike scheduled to occur on July 1. California lawmakers, however, will fail to pause the increase before a May 1 deadline — even though they have bill language from the governor’s Department of Finance, according to Politico.
At $0.51 per gallon, California already has the highest gas tax in the nation. Meanwhile, prices at California pumps have climbed to $5.68 per gallon as of Wednesday, according to AAA.
“It is clear now that the Legislature will not act in time to provide that immediate, limited relief,” Newsom spokesperson Alex Stack said in a statement. “But we look forward to working with lawmakers on the Governor’s proposal for direct payments to Californians wrestling with rising prices.”
Despite the announcement from Newsom’s office, the governor has rejected Republicans’ bid to pause California’s gas tax last month, claiming that the move would help “petro-dictators and oil companies.” In reaction to a bill from Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-CA) to pause the tax for half a year, Newsom Communications Director Erin Mellon argued that the proposal “can be manipulated to help line the pockets of petro-dictators and oil companies who are benefiting from the spike in oil prices across the world.”
Instead, she pointed to Newsom’s “tax rebate to provide billions in direct relief to Californians who are suffering from rising gas prices across the country” as a “direct result” of the Russian invasion.
In late March, the governor revealed that his plan would allow for the distribution of up to $800 per person, meaning one individual with two or more cars would receive the maximum amount. Families with cars registered in multiple family member names could receive even more.
Newsom linked the rise in gas prices to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite gas prices steadily increasing since President Joe Biden entered office. “We’re taking immediate action to get money directly into the pockets of Californians who are facing higher gas prices as a direct result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” he said in a statement.
“I appreciate Gov. Newsom’s work on developing another option to bring relief to Californians experiencing the rising cost of fuel and consumer goods,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-CA) added. “The Senate is focused on ensuring that state money is targeted to those who actually need relief, and we look forward to working with Gov. Newsom, Speaker Rendon and our Legislative colleagues to quickly develop a proposal that delivers for struggling Californians.”