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Gas tax set to rise 3.5 cents next week

Posted: June 28, 2013 1:19 p.m.
Updated: June 28, 2013 1:19 p.m.
 

Temperatures are not the only thing going up in California now that summer is here.

The state’s excise taxes on gasoline, already among the highest in the nation, will rise another 3.5 cents to settle at 39.5 cents per gallon effective Monday, an increase that will likely be passed on to those paying at the pump.

The state’s fuel tax is determined by the Board of Equalization, a five-member panel that oversees tax policy statewide.

Per state law, the board has to set tax rates by March 1 of each year. Board members voted 3-2 back in February to approve the latest increase.

Among the “no” votes was board member and former state Sen. George Runner, who said Thursday the tax hike was based on “guesswork.”

“On July 1 Californians will be forced to begin paying the highest gas taxes in the nation,” Runner said in a news release. “They have a right to be angry and demand explanation from their elected officials.”

Along with the state-regulated excise tax, gas prices are affected by city and county sales taxes as well as federal taxes.

Once the latest increase goes into effect, drivers filling up with regular unleaded gasoline in California will be subject to around 70 cents per gallon in combined state and federal taxes, well above the national average of 49 cents per gallon, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

According to state law, the Board of Equalization must set tax rates in such a way that are revenue neutral, meaning if sales tax revenues decline, the excise tax rate must go up.

A portion of collected taxes goes toward funding highway and mass transit projects around the state.
Though taxes are set to go up, Californians may be spared a gas price swell this summer.

The average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline in California is just under $4.03, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report for Friday.

This is virtually unchanged from a month ago and actually about 2 cents per gallon cheaper than last week.
But California still has the third-highest gas prices in the nation, trailing only Alaska and Hawaii.

In Santa Clarita the price for regular, unleaded gasoline ranges from $3.95 to $4.19 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com, an online gas price tracking service.

Prices should continue to hover around that range throughout the summer, according to Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.

“There are not a whole lot of big drops ahead,” DeHaan said Friday. “Prices may spend some time under $4 (a gallon); hopefully they spend a lot of time below that.”

Lmoney@signalscv.com
661-287-5525
On Twitter @LukeMMoney

 

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