Statewide gas tax to increase 12 cents Wednesday

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Californians can expect to pay more for their daily commute as the gas tax increase takes effect Wednesday.

Approved by state legislators earlier this year through Senate Bill 1, the 12-cent tax increase, from 29.7 cents to 41.7 cents per gallon, intends to raise over $5.2 billion each year to fix roads and bridges, expand bike lanes, reduce traffic congestion and improve mass transit.

Diesel fuel tax will increase from 16 cents to 36 cents and the diesel sales tax rate will increase from 9 percent to 13 percent.

Senate Bill 1 required a two-thirds supermajority vote to pass. In the Senate, the bill passed with 27 votes in favor, 11 in opposition and two abstains and had 54 votes in favor and 26 opposed in the Assembly.

The bill’s passage did not come without pushback from many Republican lawmakers.

“More legislators live in urban environments and they don’t understand how this affects commuters,” Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) said.

This tax will add up for people in his district in the Santa Clarita and Antelope Valleys because many commuters travel over 100 miles each day, Lackey said.

Los Angeles County residents are also already paying a ½ cent tax increase through Measure M passed in November.

It is not yet clear if the new tax increase will be immediately evident on Wednesday or if the tax will be slowly incorporated over time, Lackey said.

“People trust us with their most precious resource and that is a family’s income,” Lackey said. “Middle class people are just really being penalized.”

In a Republican transportation initiative that never made it to a hearing, Assembly Bill 496 would have redistributed already-existing funds to go toward fixing roads, Lackey cited.

There’s currently multiple repeal efforts in the works in an effort to reverse the transportation tax, according to the Palmdale assemblyman, which he said he supports.

“I don’t know where the trust factor is,” Lackey said about the bill going into effect Wednesday. “It didn’t get the input from the public it deserves.”

For Assemblyman Dante Acosta (R-Santa Clarita), where the gas tax funds are being directed is his largest concern.

“Perhaps the worst part is that in return for these billions of dollars in new taxes and fees, our neighbors don’t get a dime for new roads and lanes, which would reduce traffic and increase the quality of life for everyone,” Acosta said in a statement to The Signal. “Pay more and get less has become the new motto of Sacramento politicians.”

Similarly, Senator Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) thought funds for roads should be taken out of existing funds.

“We have enough money for roads, but it is not a priority,” Wilk said in a statement to The Signal. “Californians pay the highest gas taxes in the country and what have we received in return? Pothole-riddled streets and highways.”

Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) is the only one of Santa Clarita’s elected officials to vote in favor of Senate Bill 1. In June, he said he supported it because it would make roads safer.

Additional increases

On Jan. 1, an annual vehicle registration fee increase will be implemented and prices will depend on the value of the vehicle, ranging from $25 for cars under $5,000 to $175 for cars $60,000 or more.

Beginning in July 2020, the bill dictates that electric car owners will pay a yearly fee of $100.

With inflation, the 12-cent gas tax increase taking effect Wednesday is also subject to increase.

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