Nov. 01–VICTORVILLE — In the state where commuters already pay higher gas prices compared to most of the country, many Californians aren’t happy about the major price hike hitting fuel pumps.
On Wednesday, drivers across the state will begin forking out an extra 12 cents per gallon for gasoline and an extra 20 cents per gallon for diesel, a jump that came after Gov. Brown signed the tax into law without voter approval earlier this year.
But many residents told the Daily Press that paying higher gas prices is “a daily fact of life” for drivers in the Golden State, which had an average of over $4 per gallon two years ago.
Justine Linder, 37, who drives a 2010 KIA Sorento, said the new tax means she’ll pay about $2 more every time she fills up her tank, chuckling as she said, “That’s the price you pay for living in California, where you’re taxed and regulated to death by the government.”
“In the long run, I’m looking at paying about $50 more a year for gas,” said Linder, a secretary who lives in Apple Valley and works in Victorville. “I’ve lived through my fair amount of gas price increases so this is just another one that I’ll have to deal with.”
But for Oak Hills resident Lance Morgan, who commutes to Riverside on a daily basis, the commercial realtor said he’ll pay close to $500 more a year in new taxes and fees.
“Commuters living in the High Desert and driving down the hill will be the hardest hit,” Morgan, 51, said. “Many of us who moved to the High Desert because of affordable housing will now suffer the consequences by paying even more for gas.”
The additional tax is expected to raise nearly $5.4 billion annually over the next 10 years, with half of the money earmarked for the improvement of highways, bridges and culverts.
The remaining half of the tax revenue will go toward municipalities, counties and transit authorities for local street and road improvements, and for the bolstering of public transit projects.
“We don’t have an exact amount of what we’ll receive from the state, but I would venture to say it’ll be roughly $1.5 million a year for Hesperia,” said Mayor Paul Russ. “Our budget will also be affected because the city will be paying more for the price of fuel.”
Russ added the city would rather forgo accepting money from the state and not see its residents being taxed.
Patrick DeHaan, the head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, told the Daily Press it will be business as usual for California commuters after the introduction of the gas tax.
“I don’t see a 12-cent rise in gas prices (taxes) doing much to stifle commuters, given Californians have seen prices approach $5 on occasion,” DeHaan said. “Anecdotally, it will likely lead to some small behavioral change, but probably not enough to be noticed.”
The new tax will also likely “pinch” trucking companies and shipping companies, such as FedEx, UPS and USPS. It may lead to slightly diminished growth in the economy, but “hardly measurable I’d say,” DeHaan added.
Corey Beck, 60, the corporate vice president of operations for Beck Oil, told the Daily Press that with diesel taxes going up by 20 cents a gallon and diesel sales taxes rising to 13 percent, the trucking industry will take a major hit.
“I know our fleet is going to feel the financial impact of the new tax and our customers will also feel that increase as it trickles down to them,” said Beck from his office in Victorville. “Shipping costs are going to go up across the state, which is not good for anybody.”
The tax bill also includes new car registration fees beginning New Year’s Day, with fees increasing by $50 for cars valued under $25,000, or $175 for high-end luxury vehicles. Cars valued under $5,000 will pay $25 more. Electric vehicle owners will pay an additional $100 fee starting in 2020.
“With 82,000 local residents commuting to work every day, this new state gas tax is going to hit commuters especially hard,” First District Supervisor Robert Lovingood told the Daily Press. “An extra 12 cents a gallon for gas is going to add at least an extra couple hundred dollars a year and that will have to come out of families’ budgets.”
“This gas tax is facing two repeal efforts for good reason,” Lovingood added. “It is especially infuriating because the state has previously diverted gas tax revenue away from road repairs. Now the state is again asking — actually demanding — we pay again.”
Money for the tax bill will also help pay for traffic congestion relief methods, bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure and transportation research.
California’s current average gasoline price is about $3.04, and about a nickel less in San Bernardino County. Those prices are not expected to drop much once Southern California fuel stations switch to cheaper winter fuel starting Wednesday, GasBuddy reported.
Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com, Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz and Instagram @reneraydelacruz.
(c)2017 Daily Press, Victorville, Calif.
Visit Daily Press, Victorville, Calif. at www.vvdailypress.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.