Senate Republicans sent a letter today to Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) urging their support for any of three options to prevent or delay a significant cost increase on gasoline in California by as much as 76 cents a gallon in the coming months.
Gasoline and diesel fuel will be included in the state's cap-and-trade program starting January 1, 2015. An analysis from the California Air Resources Board shows that adding gas and diesel fuel into the program will increase the cost of fuel by up to 76 cents per gallon.
"California already has the highest gas prices in the nation," Senate Republicans wrote. "Currently, one in four Californians lives in poverty - the highest rate in the nation - and families are still struggling to recover from the great recession. If this regulation goes into effect, it will have direct and indirect impacts on all Californians. Alarmingly, it will especially hurt lower income families most, widening the income inequality gap and making life much harder for those who can least afford it."
The letter outlines three options for Democrats to support that will address this looming crisis:
- Senate Bill 1079 by Senator Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) will exempt transportation fuels-including gasoline, diesel, and natural gas-from the state's cap-and-trade program, thereby stopping the hidden gas tax. This bill is currently in Senate Rules Committee awaiting further action and the solution this bill provides is ideal.
- A second option would be to support Assembly Bill 69 by Assemblymember Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno). AB 69 would delay putting fuels under the cap-and-trade program until January 1, 2018, and has bipartisan support.
- Finally, the governor can exercise his executive authority to direct the Air Resources Board to exclude gasoline and diesel fuel from California's cap-and-trade program.
"Millions of Californians need immediate relief from this hidden gas tax - they did not vote for it, they aren't aware of it, and they most definitely cannot afford it," the letter concludes. "We urge you to act now - any of these solutions are better than doing nothing.