SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The high cost of living in California gets even higher Wednesday when an increase in the state’s gasoline and diesel fuel excise taxes, aimed at rebuilding California’s pothole peppered pavement, takes effect.
The new gas tax is fueling anger among Republicans at the Capitol, who say it’s too high a burden on taxpayers and comes after years of previous tax collections and failed promises by the Democrat-led legislature.
The spin from Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative supporters is more less like this: We share the roads, we should share the cost. We can collect $52 billion over ten years, if we all just chip in a few cents per fill up.
Pencil it out, and the numbers may surprise you.
How does it break down? Take an average fuel tank, about 15 gallons, at an average price of $3.00 per gallon, and the added cost of a fill up is about $2.00. At an average of two fill-ups per week, that $16 more per month and roughly $200 more per year. Two cars in the household, and you’re up to $400.
CBS13 spoke with some motorists in West Sacramento. As they began recalculating, Shaniqua Elsby said she could soon be driving less.
“I may have to, or think of other alternatives,” Elsby said.
Motorist Johnny Dominguez, who pumps a near empty tank 3 times per week, thinks taxpayers are sending good money after bad.
“The last thing I need is for them (legislators) to raise prices, only to put that money somewhere else. ‘Repairs? We’ll worry about that later,” Dominguez said.
Benton Tennyson, in a late model SUV, pumped gas and slowly shook his head.
“It’s going to run me $350 per year, so I’ve got to budget for it. I have the kids, the animals, and it will definitely cut into our funds,” Tennyson said.
To put it in perspective, a manager at the West Sacramento station told us the cost of goods in a loaded grocery cart averages about $80, so the added gas price would offset two and a half Wal-Mart Shopping trips. If that doesn’t resonate, how about $33 lunches at In-And-Out, $18 movie tickets or $47 lattes?
Talk about being taxed to the max, the $0.12 per gallon increase in the excise tax is just one part of the equation. Add to that a two cents per gallon gasoline storage fee, a rare local sales tax $0.09 per gallon, a levy collected by only 5 other states, and the current federal tax of $0.18, and the total gas tax comes to $0.72 cents, just a nickel per gallon less than the nations highest gas tax, the $0.77 per gallon paid at the pump in Pennsylvania, and a whopping 24% of the current $3.00 per gallon average price per gallon.
While there is skepticism among some that a chunk of the money will somehow get diverted to other projects, one study suggests the 10 year, $52 billion projected gas tax increase is not much more than a down payment, with the real cost of road repairs estimated to be north of $130 billion dollars.
One nugget of good news, while the tax hike hits the pumps on Wednesday, so does the slightly cheaper “winter” fuel blend, meaning until spring, the added cost to motorists will only be about $0.05 cents per gallon.