New California gas tax takes effect

California’s controversial gas tax increase took effect Wednesday, raising the base tax on gasoline 12 cents from 18 cents per gallon to 30 cents per gallon.

Taxes on diesel increased even more. The excise tax on diesel increased 20 cents from 16 cents per gallon to 36 cents per gallon, and the diesel sales tax rose from 1.75 percent to 5.75 percent. Additionally, there is a new vehicle registration fee ranging from $25 a year to $175 annually.

The new gas tax is intended to raise $52 billion over the next decade for road repairs and maintenance and other transportation related projects. Critics, however, have expressed skepticism that the state will spend the money as it is intended, and they have alleged the tax is the result of fiscal mismanagement.

While the tax has now taken effect, an effort to repeal it is also underway. In May, Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) filed an initiative calling for the repeal of SB 1, the gas tax law.

Allen is striving to place the initiative on the Nov. 2018 ballot. Backers of the initiative are engaged in a 150-day process of trying to gather 365,880 signatures from registered California voters.

Local groups, including the Central Coast Taxpayers Association, support the initiative and have rallied for repeal of the gas tax.

A poll released in June by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) found 58 percent of Californians oppose SB 1 while only 35 percent of voters support it. Though voters oppose the gas tax, they remain supportive of Gov. Jerry Brown, who had a 59 percent approval rating, according to the IGS poll.

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