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CALIFORNIA GAS TAX

How much California’s gas tax is going up and how its price has changed over the years

The annual increase to California’s gas tax made the highest gas tax in America just a bit higher. How much has it changed since the annual hike began?

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How much California’s gas tax is going up and how its priced has changed over the years?
FREDERIC J. BROWN AFP

Since being enacted in 2017, California’s gas tax gets an automatic hike every 1 July to help fund maintenance of the state’s roads and bridges. Drivers can expect to pay about 8 cents more each time they fill up until next year.

The California gas tax was established in 2017 under Senate Bill 1 which incrementally raises the fuel excise tax each year. With this year’s increase, 51.1 cents on every gallon will go toward more road repairs, which Caltrans says has helped over the past three years of the tax to improve 6,400 lane miles. That is a 40 percent increase over what Caltrans was able to do before the annual tax hike.

How much has the tax increased since 2017

Since the state enacted Senate Bill 1 the amount of tax Californians spend on a gallon has increased over 21 cents. The first hike of 12 cents came 1 November 2017 after the bill was signed by then-Governor Jerry Brown. The next rise of 5.6 cents came 1 July 2019, followed by a 3.2 cent adjustment last year.

The 2021 increase is "about 0.6 cents per gallon, and for that typical 14-gallon size fuel tank, that means you're paying about 8 cents more per fill up, so not a huge difference," said Doug Shupe, AAA Spokesperson for Southern California. According to the American Petroleum Institute, when you add on other state taxes and fees the price is 63.65 cents per gallon. Tack on another 18.4 cents from Uncle Sam and Californians pay an additional 82.05 cents now for each gallon of gas.

California Republicans push for a gas tax holiday

The California Legislature passed a $262 billion budget on Monday, not included in the appropriations bill was a proposal by Republican state lawmakers to give residents a gas tax holiday for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. They wanted the state to use money from the general fund to make up the difference.

In a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom the GOP lawmakers wrote “While this legislature is currently deliberating whether to expand the Golden State Stimulus payments to more Californians, it is important to understand that any action intended to provide financial relief to Californians is undermined by the accompanying rise in gasoline excise taxes,” stated the letter.

The latest increase is expected to haul in an additional $83 million next year, according to the Republican lawmakers. They say the gas tax costs the average family of four as much as $800 per year.