A statewide movement to suspend the gas tax continued to gain support this week following both a raise in gas prices well past a $5 per gallon average and Joe Biden announcing the halt of Russian oil importation due to the Russian-Ukrainian War.
GOP lawmakers in Sacramento have already began the push in recent weeks. While many have wanted an end to the gas tax since it became law in 2017 to help fund infrastructure and transportation projects, many moderates, the unaffiliated, and center-leaning Democrats have joined in support to at least a temporary end of the tax. A key part of the proposal is the reallocation of $6 billion in state surplus funds to be used for gas tax projects. While GOP lawmakers have been pushing for a 6 month moratorium and Gov. Gavin Newsom has been wanting a gas tax holiday to stop the scheduled tax increase in July, others this week have proposed an even longer gas tax cut.
In particular, many of the new lawmakers backing the longer gas tax suspension for more than six months come from Southern California, where many gas stations are now moving above the $6 per gallon level, and at least in one case, hovering around $7. San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond wrote on Monday a letter to the County asking for a one-year reprieve due to San Diego County having gas prices that are amongst the highest in the nation.
“I cannot stand by and let San Diegans suffer while Sacramento politicians build up their coffers,” Supervisor Desmond said on Monday. “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. In the meantime, San Diegans need help and it’s time for Sacramento bureaucrats to step up.”
“This is not a partisan issue. This is hitting everybody left and right, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on. There is a $45 billion excess there of our money at the state. A one-year reprieve is about $6 billion.”
Today, I will be submitting a Board letter to the County asking for a 1-year suspension of the Gas Tax. It's inexcusable to see pictures of gas prices in the $6 and $7 range. I cannot stand by and let San Diegans suffer while Sacramento politicians build up their coffers. ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/MLRiaD4qi0
— Supervisor Jim Desmond (@jim_desmond) March 7, 2022
A continued push for the gas tax suspension
Outside of lawmakers, an increasing number of Californians not only support the relief but also have said that the issue of higher gas prices and the gas tax will influence how they vote later this year.
“There has been a strong shift in the last few weeks,” Yolanda Martinez, a Los Angeles pollster, told the Globe on Tuesday. “Gas prices, which had barely been on people’s radar, is now front and center. Usual issues like homelessness and housing and drought have taken a back seat to this. And calls going out since last week for polls have been more nastier on their end. When we get to the issue of gas, conservatives want it lowered bar none, moderates want it lowered, and liberals are showing more and more want of relief too. Some actually didn’t even know what the gas tax was before last week. Well, they know now.”
“Politics have not shifted really, but among voters, Republicans have at least a feather in their cap for at least a viable temporary solution, that get rid of the gas tax for a big part of the year and replace it with surplus funds,” she said. “It makes sense to a lot of people. 51 cents per gallon won’t make gas suddenly affordable again, but it will help relief-wise. And we’ve been noticing a hesitant approval for liberals on this despite Democratic lawmakers not wanting a gas tax suspension or even a halt to the increase to the tax in July. This is beginning to cost them support among moderates and even some in their base, Republicans were already expecting a big year. The who gas thing going on now is really starting to add to their support. Democrats should be very worried about all this.”
Support from lawmakers and the public is expected to continue to increase in the coming weeks.
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