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California Gas Tax Hike Goes Into Effect Wednesday

October 31, 2017 1:19 p.m.

California Gas Tax Hike Goes Into Effect Wednesday

GUEST:

Rob Nikolewski, energy reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Related Story: California Gas Tax Hike Goes Into Effect Wednesday

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

It is like a Zen question for your wallet. If the price of gas goes up by $.12 and down by $.12 at the same time, are you paying more for gas? The answer is yes. Kind of. But you probably will not notice for a while. Senate Bill one the road repair and accountability act goes into effect tomorrow raising the price of gas $.12 one gallon. That happens to be the same day gas stations can start selling winter blend gas that cuts the price by $.12. If you think that's complicated, sent to the rest of the tax and fee schedules coming up for California drivers. Joining me is Rob Michalowski with the San Diego Union Tribune. Tomorrow the gas tech that school taxes scheduled to go up by $.12 for gas. It is possible drivers will not see an automatic spike. Can you explain.That is because the analysts I talk to says the gas tax has been baked in by a number of different gasoline stations. They can start raising that by $.12 on November 1. A lot of the refineries have already anticipated this. It is not going to -- it is not like a light switch where tomorrow every gas station in California will have $.12 more expensive gasoline. It will go out. If you drive a lot and $.12 means a lot to you, it might be a to fill up your tank on Tuesday. Starting Wednesday be a bargain shopper and look around and see who has the most expensive and least expensive gas.This is the time of year that prices of gas comes down because of winter blend.We have the summer blend and winter blend. Just about every state in the nation has that. California is different. The winter blend kicks in November one. The blending formula is because California is in a basin. You want to have a blended gasoline with additives to reduce the amount of pollution. That is why we have it.Why did state legislators vote to increase gas tax?Their thinking was that California's roads, highways, bridges needed repair. It is a big political foot like many things are. People pointed out that in the past, they raise the gas tax and earmarked money to reporter that's repair roads, bridges, highways, and the money gets siphoned off. This time Democrats who dominate the legislator have promised that there are built-in safeguards that will make sure that the money raised, it will be a significant amount, that the money raised will go to roads, potholes, things like that.Part of the argument is with hybrids and electric cars on the road, the amount of gas tax to make those infrastructure repairs have been going down year after year.That is the ironic thing about covering energy in California. So much of energy is crude oil. The price of oil has gone down. But even big SUVs, pickup trucks, their fuel efficiency have improved largely prodded by the state resources board and the federal government. Because of that, if your car is going farther on less gasoline, you are not going to fill up as much. That means that the amount of gas tax will decrease. With increasing numbers of electric cars, there is a long-term question about what we will do to maintain the roads and freeways if more vehicles are electric, hybrid, or really very fuel efficient internal combustion engines.When it comes to the gas tax we will see, the bump we may or may not see at the pump tomorrow, it is higher for diesel drivers.Yes. $.20 a gallon for diesel.The packages that came with SB one also extended to vehicle registration.$25 a year more all the way up to $75 depending on how expensive your car is. It does not go into effect for a while. For the first time, we will -- they will charge $100 for registration fee for electric cars like Tesla's.There are currently two proposed initiatives to repeal the gas tax. Councilmember Carl D Milo is trying to recall State Senator Joss Newman of Fullerton for voting for the tax. What is the status of the repeal efforts?Right now Travis Allen a Republican in the assembly has put forth a repeal effort. He has been fighting with the state attorney general. The state attorney general has put out the language that will be used on the repeal effort that will go to Voters.I imagine most people don't want to pay more for gas. Do people who are opposed to the gas tax have an idea on where money is supposed to come from to keep the California roads in good shape?I think the idea is previous tat -- gas taxes that were earmarked should be put into effect. The other thing is the bill that goes into effect tomorrow, that has support from a number of different people including the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce. They say that for every one dollar that is spent on improving roads and bridges, you get a five dollar benefit. There is also in the state assembly, the people who put forth the bill analysis estimated that every car in California because of the bad shape of the roads gets about $700 a year in damages. That seems high to me. But that's what the analysts from the state legislator says.You're advice is to fill up today?Sure. Especially if you have a long commute and you use a lot of gas. Or you have a car or truck that does not have great gas mileage. It's better to be safe and fill up today then see what happens Wednesday.I have been speaking with Rob, Rob thank you.