Written by Julianne Foster
Amidst the pandemic chaos, San Diego residents have been able to catch a break with lower than usual gas prices. Unfortunately, prices are beginning to rise again as residents experienced a 3.2 cent increase on July 1, bringing the gas tax to 50.5 cents, which is double the national average.
This price will remain the same until June of 2021. The state’s sales tax on gas holds at 2.25 percent in the meantime. With federal taxes, Californians are paying 79 cents per gallon in taxes, the highest gas tax rate in the nation.
“Even though 2.4 million Californians lost their jobs this spring, and the state’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to 16.3%, California Democrats are still taking every penny they can,” said California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson. “California deserves better. It’s time for new leadership.”
This raise in taxes is of great concern to San Diegans and the officials elected to represent them, who are considering where people stand financially as COVID-19 continues to threaten the livelihoods of millions of Californians. Although Republican officials have spoken out for a suspension of the tax increase, Democratic control of the State Legislature prevents such a change.
All of this is due to Senate Bill 1, which was signed into law in April of 2017 by former Governor California Jerry Brown. The bill was titled the “Road Repair and Accountability Act,” a deceptive title to raise the gas tax when California surely had enough funds for road maintenance with its $200 billion annual budget at the time.
In 2018, Prop 6 was an attempt to repeal gas tax increases and vehicle fees that were put in place with SB 1. The proposition was also an attempt to give people more involvement in government decisions by requiring voter approval for the increase or extension of gas taxes or vehicle fees in the future. Instead, panic campaigns pushed by labor unions and other special interest groups were able to persuade voters to believe they could not repair the roads without the tax.
In late September, Gov. Gavin Newsom redirected the funds to be used for more environmentalism instead of the road repairs he and other Democrats promised. Now, the $5 billion in annual transportation spending is being used to battle climate change by funding “innovative strategies designed to encourage people to shift from cars to other modes of transportation.”
The tax money is being directed towards the opposite goal it was originally deemed critical for, as it now supports creating an atmosphere with fewer drivers and therefore less money towards road reconstruction and further efforts to mitigate climate change. Democrats who are running California continue to raise taxes and spend taxpayer funds on things they weren’t originally meant for, draining the pockets of Californians who are struggling just to get by.