California braces for another tax hike as drivers grimace over current prices

Steve Lippincott pulled into the Shell Gas Station on Fairfax and Olympic and was stunned that regular was up to $5.79 a gallon! 

"That’s a lot!" he said. 

The carpenter wasn’t alone in that reaction. After seeing the big price sign on the corner USC Student Maddy Edwards said, "That’s so expensive that crazy."

Average gas prices in California are $4 a gallon, but in some places, they are up to $6.

And, soon, another tax hike will go into effect. The big day is Thursday, July 1 when the next installment of a tax package approved by the Legislature in 2017 kicks in. 

Senate Bill 1, or SB 1, which was approved in 2017, provided for gasoline tax hikes of 12 cents per gallon in 2017, 5.6 cents in 2019 and on July 1, 3.2 cents a gallon. 

"That’s unbelievable," says Aqueta Clark, of Compton. "Already, the cost of living in California is significantly high so to see these prices now it’s going to be hard for a lot of people." 

And, 3.2 cents – on top of all the rest of the state gas taxes – will amount to about 51 cents per gallon. 

To Clark, it’s a head shaker. 

"I mean, we’re just coming off of a COVID pandemic. A lot of people are trying to make ends meet and to see gas prices so high is ridiculous," she said.

To Jamie Court, of Consumer Watchdog, "This 3.2 cents extra is just adding insult to injury." 

Court says it’s going to make California continue to have the highest gas prices in America. 

Says Court, "I find it outrageous that the government is not doing more to lower gas prices."

The series of SB1 gas taxes was supposed to be a way to fund road and bridge repair. Then came the pandemic and people didn’t drive much. The result was that tax coffers didn’t fill up as projected but that’s another issue with which the legislature has to contend. 

To Court, "we may need a tax to pay for the roads but the problem is California has not done a good job of keeping gas prices lower."

To drivers like Steve Lippincott, when it comes to the price of gas, he feels stuck because "you need gas." 

Same for Maddy Edwards, who adds, "I don’t really have a choice. I need gas… in LA, you’ve gotta drive everywhere."