California gas prices still highest in US following tax increase

Those who hit the road for the July 4 holiday in California may have noticed an increase in gas prices resulting from a new gas tax that went into effect on Monday, July 1.

The tax hike brought California’s already high gas prices up an additional 5.6 cents per gallon.

According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey, this brought the regular gasoline average price per gallon in California to $3.755 per gallon — way above the national average of $2.717 per gallon of regular gas.

Following California in having the highest gas prices in the U.S. are Hawaii, Washington, Nevada, Alaska, and Oregon.

States with the cheapest regular gas prices like Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and South Carolina hover at just above $2.30 per gallon.

According to the California State Board of Equalization, the tax hike would bring California’s total gas tax up to 47.3 cents per gallon, and would likely increase in the next year to keep pace with the California Consumer Price Index.

California is known to be a car-loving state with the most number of licensed drivers in the nation. The tax increase is said to be a step forward in the state’s plan of raising money for road repairs, mass transit programs, and other alternative public transportation projects.

Senate Bill 1 — passed in 2017 — was created to generate about $5 billion a year, or nearly $54 billion over a decade. But California Republicans have been against the tax increase, citing tax increases despite California Governor Gavin Newsom’s concerns over high gas prices.

Last November, a Republican-led effort to repeal the law was ultimately rejected by California voters.

“With this increase, California will once again have the highest gas taxes in the nation. You’d hope that would at least pay for quality roads, but no, ours are some of the worst in the country,” state Assembly minority leader Marie Waldron in a statement, as quoted by CNBC.

She added, “It’s sad that instead of using existing funding efficiently, Democrats, on a party-line vote, supported yet another regressive tax increase on California drivers.”

In April, Newsom put blame on “inappropriate industry practices” over high taxes and strict environmental rules. Investigators at the California Energy Commission similarly later looked at “possible market manipulation,” according to the Associated Press.

Throughout the U.S., 12 other states raised taxes at the start of their fiscal years on Monday.

While California continues to have the highest gas prices in the nation, drivers in Illinois were hit with a whopping 19 cents per gallon increase.

Drivers in Michigan, on the other hand, saw a barely noticeable 0.1 cents increase.

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