SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Drivers in California are no stranger to high gas prices.
The average price for a gallon of gas in the Golden State hovers around $4.60, whereas the nationwide average is $3.30.
Since voters approved the gas tax in 2017 to improve roads, prices have been increasing at the pump, sometimes only pennies per gallon a year, in order to keep up with the rising cost of inflation.
But this year, Newsom wants to give folks a small break at the pumps.
"I think it’s refreshing to see that the Governor’s finally realizing that the California gas tax is playing a significant role in inflation here in the state of California,” Craig DeLuz, a spokesperson for the California Republican Assembly, said. "We definitely pay the most in terms of gas taxes in the entire United States and as things are getting more expensive, it’s important that we recognize the role that those taxes are playing in that, so it’s nice to see that he’s finally recognizing that and at least considering giving Californians a break."
The California Asphalt Pavement Association says they’re estimating the tax increase that would go into effect this year to be about three cents per gallon.
Because of the amount projected, Sanjay Varshney, a Sacramento State professor of finance, says the pause is not significant, adding the average consumer will not notice a difference with or without those pennies.
"It doesn’t make a dent, it doesn’t change anything, it will not change lives, it will not change livelihoods," Varshney said.
Russell Snyder, executive director for the California Asphalt Pavement Association, says road construction isn't finished and there's much left to do. The organization was expecting over $530 million from the gas tax to fix roads.
"I’m not sure why the Governor is claiming mission accomplished when there’s so much left to do and frankly leaving perhaps a half a billion dollars on the table, which is desperately needed for fixing our roads and bridges in California,” Snyder said. "Gas is plenty expensive and I don’t want to pay any more than I absolutely have to. However, I don’t want to ride on roads and bridges that are really falling apart and causing damage to my car."
Snyder added Newsom doesn't technically have the authority to pause the gas tax because it was a law passed by the Legislature. Newsom will need to ask lawmakers to pass the pause, something Snyder said his team will fight against.
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