Jim Desmond Proposes One-Year Suspension of State Gas Tax

Written by William Hale

San Diego gas prices have been steadily increasing over the last month, but drivers across the county know that prices have exploded in this past week specifically. A perfect storm of Bidenflation, sanctions on Russian oil, and the highest state gas tax in the nation have resulted in an average price of $5.383 for regular self-serve gasoline. 

The California state gas tax is $0.51 per gallon, but San Diego County Board of Supervisors member Jim Desmond has proposed a one-year suspension of Sacramento’s gas tax as San Diegans struggle to pay for their commutes. 

“With soaring gas prices, increasing energy and utility costs, out of control housing costs, and the rising cost of goods (such as groceries) due to inflation, many San Diegans struggle now more than ever to afford basic needs,” wrote Desmond in a letter to the board of supervisors.

The revenue brought in from the state gas tax is typically spent on road maintenance throughout the state, but Desmond suggests that these infrastructure costs could be covered by the state’s estimated $45 billion budget surplus. After all, the approximate amount traditionally generated by the state gas tax to be used on road maintenance is $6.8 billion — only ~15% of the current budget surplus.

Saving taxpayers $0.51 per gallon is crucial in this time of general unaffordability in San Diego. But in order to get to the root of the problem, this much-needed band-aid necessitates a change in federal policy toward energy independence (achieved by the Trump administration in 2019).

“I admit this is a short-term problem and longer solutions need to be looked into, like America becoming less dependent on foreign nations such as Russia, Iran and Venezuela and more energy independent but, that’s a federal issue,” wrote Desmond.