SALINAS, Calif. - A 12-cent tax is hitting California's gas pumps Wednesday. It's the first increase since 1994.
Californians already pay some of the highest gas prices in the country. On Tuesday, the statewide average was $3.04 per gallon, about 57 cents higher than the national average, according to AAA.
The gas tax increase is a part of Governor Jerry Brown’s Transportation Funding Package, passed in April. The money collected will go towards fixing roads and improving public transportation statewide.
The state said this legislation will cost most drivers less than $10 a month. Still, many rushed to the pumps Tuesday to catch some last minute bargains.
“Everyone was trying to fill up, you know, top off their tanks before the tax went through,” said Prunedale Valero manager Jeffery Hughley.
The cash price for regular gas at the station was $2.89 Tuesday night. Now that the gas tax is in effect, it’s still $2.89.
“The ARCO and the Chevron haven’t really moved. They’ve stayed the same price they were yesterday. So i guess until, you know, someone makes the first move,” Hughley said.
While competition is putting a temporary lid on prices at some gas stations, others said they had to shift the cost to drivers first thing in the morning.
“I don’t feel real good about it because we are the one that take the brunt,” said Kirk di Cicco, owner of a 7 Eleven in Salinas. “The consumer comes in and says why did your gas just jump 12 cents?”
Republicans against the legislation are calling it a “gastaxtrophe.” Some Californians are skeptical that the money will go to the right places.
“I know gas tax in the past was always supposed to go onto roads but we haven’t really seen much, especially in our area, so it’s a little, you know, hopefully for the roads and all that, something gets done instead of us waiting around,” Hughley said.
GasBuddy, a company that tracks prices and helps drivers find cheap gasoline, said the legislation can also encourage people to choose more fuel efficient vehicles, such as hybrids and electric cars.
The taxes are projected to raise about $5 billion a year to be split between state and local governments. Much of it will pay for fixing potholes and rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges. Some will also pay for public transportation, biking and walking trails, and other projects.
Caltrans announced that the first listing of local transportation projects expected to be funded by the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB 1) are now available on the SB 1 Rebuilding California website located at: http://www.rebuildingca.ca.gov/map.html.
Wednesday’s increase will put the state gasoline tax at 41.7 cents on top of the unchanged federal gas tax of 18.3 cents.