The federal government’s sweeping “COVID-19” relief bill gave California’s state government a whopping $26 billion in bailout money. This, combined with the fact that the Golden State was actually doing fine with local tax revenue despite the pandemic, led to something unexpected: California ran a $75.7 billion budget surplus in 2021. Yet despite the government’s coffers overflowing with taxpayer money, it’s still going through with a plan to raise one tax on Californians.
“While a handful of California officials deliberate on how to best divvy up a historic $75 billion budget overflow, gas-powered vehicle owners will be paying more to fill up their tanks,” Just The News reports. “The state’s motor fuel excise tax is set to increase Thursday, up six-tenths of a cent to more than 51 cents a gallon of motor fuel. The state also adds more than 7 cents a gallon in fees.”
This might sound small at first glance, but, “with federal, state and local taxes, the average cost for a gallon of unleaded is approaching $5 in many metropolitan areas of California.”
In fairness, the gas tax increase now taking effect was prescheduled. But Californian Democrats blocked a proposal to stop the increase. And they could have used the budget surplus to alleviate the crushing gas tax burden altogether. After all, gas taxes hit poor and working-class citizens particularly hard. They’re often required to commute and drive more, and can least afford the increases in gas prices that accompany tax increases.
“Why are we asking California taxpayers to spend even more money out of their limited resources in a COVID year with unemployment as high as it is?” Republican State Senator Brian Jones asked.
“Governor Newsom and other Democrat leaders are chauffeured around in state vehicles and don’t have to worry about the sky-rocketing cost of gasoline in California,” Jones continued. “Many Californians lost their jobs and businesses during the state-ordered COVID shutdown. The least the state can do is take some of the bloated budget surplus and help lower the cost of gasoline Californians pay.”
Even setting partisanship and ideology completely aside, it seems downright cruel to raise taxes on working-class citizens after a crushing economic crisis while the government’s bank account is overflowing. But, apparently, those optics aren’t stopping California politicians from grabbing more of their constituents’ money.
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This article was originally published on FEE.org