gas prices

No More Gas Tax? State Lawmakers Considering Relief Options as Gas Prices Soar

The cost of gas in California is the highest in the country, and state lawmakers are trying to find solutions to help ease Californians' pain at the pump

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The average price of a gallon of gasoline in California on Tuesday was $5.44, much higher than the national average of $4.17, according to AAA, and higher prices could be on their way.

Governor Gavin Newsom proposed suspending the 3-cent gas tax increase that was set to go into effect in July. While many lawmakers say that's a step in the right direction, some say it's not enough.

NBC 7's Dana Griffin spoke to drivers willing to wait 15 to 20 minutes to fill up on cheaper gas at Costco.

Republican Assemblymember Randy Voepel from the 71st District co-authored a bill that would suspend the gas tax all together for six months. That would save Californians approximately 50 cents per gallon.

"When I look at the middle class and especially the poor, the price of gasoline and inflation is a tax on the middle class and the poor," Assemblymember Voepel said.

Lawmakers who support the six-month suspension say the estimated $4.4 billion of estimated revenue loss from the proposed suspension could be made up with the budget surplus that is estimated to be anywhere between $46 and $69 billion.

"Now we think the surplus has grown to $68 billion, so that’s $68 billion that the state is taking in from California taxpayers that I’ve been saying, it needs to go back to the taxpayers and one of the ways it can go back, and I think it's pretty evenly distributed, is for the state to do a gas tax holiday," said Republican State Senator Brian Jones from the 38th District.

Some Democratic lawmakers think doing a six-month gas tax suspension isn't a good long-term solution.

"It's not simply a matter of temporarily suspending this or cutting this for six months. How do you come up with that time frame? It is just not considering all of the factors that as policy makers we need to consider to make the best decisions for Californians today," said Democratic State Senator Ben Hueso from the 40th District.

In a statement to NBC 7, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins said all proposals, including the governor's suspension of the tax increase, are being considered. She said finding relief for Californians for the rising cost of everything is a top priority.

NBC 7 reached out to assemblymembers Chris Ward, Akilah Weber, and Tasha Boerner Horvath but they have not responded.

In a statement to NBC 7, Democratic Assemblymember Brian Maienschein from the 77th District said he supports the suspension of the gas tax as part of this year's budget discussions.

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