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California Fuel Taxes Rise Wednesday

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

That trip to the gas station has just gotten a little more expensive.

A new law approved by California lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown this past spring raises the state’s gas tax 12 cents a gallon starting Wednesday. The diesel tax is getting a 20-cent bump – along with an extra 4 percent diesel sales tax increase.

The billions of dollars a year in new revenue will pay for road repairs, public transit and other projects. Some of that work is already underway.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office says the 12-cent-per-gallon gas tax hike was timed to take effect as California gas stations begin shifting from a pricier summer blend of gasoline to a cheaper winter blend – the goal being to smooth the transition for consumers as much as possible, as a politically unpopular tax takes effect.

But UC Berkeley energy researcher Severin Borenstein says gas stations phase the switch in gradually.

So what will drivers see the next time they fill up?

“If you look right around the introduction of this tax, I don’t think there’s gonna be much offset from the other things going down, so you’re gonna see an increase at the pump,“ Borenstein says. “It’ll be right around the full tax” of 12 cents a gallon.

“If you look over the course of a couple of months, it will be blended in to all the other changes we see in gas prices, day-to-day and week-to-week,” such as global oil price fluctuations, Borenstein says.

Diesel fuel does not have summer or winter blends.

The new law also creates a new vehicle registration fee ranging from $25 to $175 a year that will take effect in January 2018.

Gas tax opponents are hoping to let voters decide next year whether to overturn the increases.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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