Energy · Visalia/Tulare

Tulare Co. lawmakers urge state to suspend gas tax

Tulare County is asking the State of California to suspend the gas tax in order to combat rising prices. 

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a letter on Tuesday in support of a moratorium on the gas tax. 

“At a time when California is experiencing billion-dollar budget surpluses year after year, the state has the opportunity to provide hard-working citizens a significant financial reprieve as they grapple with a forty-year high inflation rate,” the letter reads. 

According to the county’s staff report, Californians are paying $5.76 per gallon, which comes in at $1.65 more per gallon than the national average. 

The state excise tax on gas is currently $0.51 per gallon, which the board pointed to as hurting county residents. 

“High gas prices disproportionately and negatively impact low income, rural communities such as those in Tulare County,” the letter reads. “With long commutes to city centers and rural worksites, and a per capita income of just $22,092, every penny counts when making ends meet here in the Central San Joaquin Valley.” 

The board argued that a moratorium on the gas tax would have a positive ripple effect throughout the local economy. 

“Reducing the cost of gas lowers the cost of transporting everyday goods for sellers and distributors,” the letter reads. “This, in turn, reduces the cost of goods to consumers at the time of purchase. A moratorium on the gas tax is not just a break for motorists at the pump, it’s a break for every Californian, at every cash register, across the state.” 

Supes hit brakes on opposition to initiative curbing tax hike powers

In a shift of support in the Central Valley, Tulare County decided against signing a letter in opposition to a proposed ballot initiative which would raise the threshold for tax hikes. 

The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act is currently circulating petitions for signatures to qualify for the November ballot. 

If it makes it to the ballot and is passed by voters, legislatively proposed statewide tax increases would need to receive two-thirds approval from the legislature and a majority of voters. Currently, such an increase only requires either two-thirds approval from the legislature or a majority of support from voters. 

Local tax increases would also require approval from the local government body and voters in the jurisdiction. 

The initiative would also impact state and local government fees, requiring them to be imposed by a majority vote of the legislature or local governments, restricting the ability of state and local governments to delegate fee changes to administrative entities. 

The League of California Cities – the state’s top lobbying association for municipalities – has come out strongly opposed to the initiative. 

That led to Hanford, Madera and Stockton all officially opposing the initiative. 

But the Tulare County Board of Supervisors decided against moving forward with a letter of opposition Tuesday, instead opting to gather more information on the matter before making a decision.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.