Gas tax increase approved by California regulators


"There will be a 3.5-cent change," said Jaime Garza, spokesman with the California Board of Equilization.

That became official when the California Board of Equalization voted to approve the hike on Thursday. It's set to go into effect July 1.

State officials are loath to refer to it as a tax hike, instead calling it an annual adjustment required by law as part of the legislature's 2010 fuel tax swap.

"A lot of people have the misperception that the board of equalization is raising your tax. We don't have the authority to raise taxes. We are mandated by the legislature to adjust so that we have revenue neutrality," said Garza.

But whatever you call it, motorists are unhappy that California is bumping up gas taxes to the highest in the country at a time when gas is already near record high prices.

"We're not paying enough for gas that we need to have another tax on top of that? I think it's ridiculous," said Cynthia Dillard of San Bernardino.

One glimmer of hope for drivers: The Automobile Club of Southern California says gas prices are finally starting to drop, but ever so slightly.

The average price of a gallon of regular in Los Angeles County is down 1/10 of a cent. In Orange County, it's down 3/10 of a penny. It's not enough to pad bank accounts, but it is potentially a good omen according to AAA.

"The wholesale price of gas has come down about a quarter during the course of this week, so it is likely we'll see the trend of going down to continue," said Steve Mazor with AAA.

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