Politics

Tackling an affordability crisis, Harder presses Sacramento to drop Calif.’s pricey gas tax

With purchasing power at an all-time low amid inflation combined with supply chain issues and widespread consumer product shortages in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, candidates jockeying for Congress next year are, once again, met with a key maxim: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

That isn’t lost on vulnerable House Democrats who are confronting a Republican minority flush with cash and friendly terrain to recapture the majority.

Part of that friendly terrain centers on the spiraling cost of living, which House Republicans have spent much of 2021 honing in on as a key message for the 2022 midterm elections.

Locally, one Democrat has already gotten to work to get in front of the economic woes as California awaits the full effect of an impending shake-up of the political map via redistricting.

Tuesday, Rep. Josh Harder (D–Turlock) rolled out a new plan to combat the Valley’s affordability crisis, pointing to a pair of bills designed to ease growing West Coast supply chain hiccups and port issues.

But the more interesting item may be a different push: the two-term Federal lawmaker called on Sacramento to “pause and repeal the California gas tax costing families more than 50 cents per gallon.”

It comes as sticker-shock gas prices are becoming synonymous with the Democratic Party, partly due to the ubiquity of stickers on gas pumps featuring President Joe

Harder is one of the few Californians in the House Democratic Caucus to oppose California’s highest-in-the-nation gas tax, and it’s not a new position for the Turlock native.

Four years ago, while seeking to oust then-Rep. Jeff Denham (R–Turlock) in 2018, Harder backed Proposition 6, a statewide initiative that would have repealed the latest gas tax increase enacted by California lawmakers via 2017’s Senate Bill 1.

Currently, California’s gas tax rate sits at 66.98 cents per gallon, a full eleven cents higher than the next state (Illinois).

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