Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) is rejecting Republicans’ bid to pause California’s gas tax because the move would help “petro-dictators and oil companies.”
Prices at the pump have been rising for the past year, reaching new highs amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to AAA, the average American consumer currently pays $4.31 per gallon; however, the average Californian pays an average of $5.75.
California also has a $0.51 per gallon tax on gasoline — a policy which many Republicans are attempting to suspend in order to provide residents with relief from soaring prices. A Honda Civic, for example, has a 12.4 gallon tank — translating to an additional $6.34 per fill from the tax alone.
In a letter obtained by Fox Business, a group of Republican lawmakers led by Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) asked Newsom to pause the gas tax.
“Even as prices skyrocket, California continues to tax gasoline at 51.1 cents per gallon,” the lawmakers wrote. “While market forces are responsible for today’s extreme prices, California’s high taxes represent an added burden, and working Californians simply cannot afford gas prices approaching $6 per gallon.”
“With the cost of goods rising across the board and the price of a gallon of gas at record highs, now is the time to pursue all avenues of relief,” the letter continued. “We call on you to immediately suspend California’s excise tax on gasoline for six months.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was among the legislators who sponsored the letter, according to Fox Business.
The letter is not the only bid from California Republicans to suspend the gas tax. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-CA) introduced a bill that would have paused the tax for half a year — but a party line vote in Sacramento killed the measure on Monday.
“We are offering the legislature the chance to be on the side of hard-working Californians by suspending the state gas tax in its entirety,” Kiley said at a news conference ahead of the vote. Other lawmakers — including Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher — pointed out that California’s $65 billion budget surplus could easily “backfill” the $4 billion in funds raised through the tax.
Newsom’s office reacted poorly to the conservatives’ legislation. Newsom Communications Director Erin Mellon argued that “the Republican’s 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 pointing 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.
“Yesterday, the Democratic super majority in California had an opportunity to provide real relief to hardworking California families who are struggling with record breaking gas prices,” Valadao said in a statement to Fox Business. “It is unfortunate they chose not to put more money back into the pockets of Californians by suspending the gas tax.”