California · Energy

Not High Enough: Newsom blames legislature over likely 2022 gas tax hike

It appears that California’s highest-in-the-nation average gas price of $5.684 today isn’t enough motivation to convince Golden State lawmakers to halt the state’s inflation-tied gas tax.

One half of a two-part proposal by Gov. Gavin Newsom to ease the pain at the pump for California drivers – a temporary pause on a regularly-scheduled increase to the gas excise tax – must be considered by Sunday as an early budget item to ensure that a July 1 increase is averted.

Monday night, Newsom officials began casting blame on the state’s legislature for inaction on lowering gas prices.

“It is clear now that the Legislature will not act in time to provide that immediate, limited relief,” Newsom spokesperson Alex Stack said in a statement, as reported by Politico. “But we look forward to working with lawmakers on the Governor’s proposal for direct payments to Californians wrestling with rising prices.”

Along with the gas tax increase suspension, Newsom called for direct financial relief to California drivers of all stripes.

California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D–Paramount) and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D–San Diego) threw cold water on the proposed halt in gas tax hikes, stoking fears – later echoed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–San Francisco) – that oil firms wouldn’t pass the tax savings on to consumers.

Rendon and Atkins along with various blocs in their respective Democratic caucuses have indicated strong support for direct payments to Californians over gas prices, but have struggled to come up with the formula that will win sufficient votes to get to Newsom’s desk.

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.