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California’s gas tax increase raises already sky-high prices

Paying more than $6 per gallon for gas has become a normal situation throughout San Diego recently. On Friday, that number creeped a little higher as California’s gas tax went up by 5.6%.

That takes the current tax up to 53.9 cents per gallon.

“It's a 3-cent increase in a backdrop in which we have seen gas prices go up $2 from this same time last year,” AAA spokesperson Marie Montgomery said.

She said it was important to keep in mind that prices peaked two weeks ago.

“Gas prices have been coming down for the last two weeks. We've seen a 14-cent drop in San Diego average gas prices and actually a nearly 2-cent drop from Wednesday to Thursday," Montgomery said.

In the Del Cerro neighborhood of San Diego, Cheryl Clark and her husband, Carl Giamanco, were filling up their car on Friday.

“There’s been two times where we’ve ran out of gas. And, if it wasn't for good Samaritans, we’d be SOL,” Clark said.

The car has become their home after losing their house near San Diego State University a couple of months ago. Giamanco said it had been very challenging with his wife’s physical disabilities.

“Where we would go to the beach and sit for a picnic, come back home and watch TV. We can't do that now. ... The home’s gone for one thing. And we're looking at moving out of the state,” he said, adding that they were considering Spokane, Washington, as a potential new city to live in.

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Jacob Aere
Enrique Acosta fills up his work truck at a Chevron gas station in San Diego's Del Cerro neighborhood, July 1, 2022.

The gas tax hike comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers have made a budget deal centered around rebates of up to $1,050 for 17.5 million taxpayers.

Some conservative politicians want more. They're circulating a petition for a ballot measure they said would prevent tax hikes.

“We’re collecting signatures on a petition to put the California Taxpayer Protection Act on the ballot. And that would have prevented this sort of gas tax increase, the automatic increases every year,” Reform California chairman Carl DeMaio told ABC 10News.

In the meantime, Californians can expect gas rebates to start arriving later this fall in order to combat high fuel prices and the cost of living.

“These high gas prices have actually caused people to reduce the amount of gas they're purchasing. So there has been a consumer response to these very, very high gas prices. And some of that has helped, also, to decrease them," Montgomery said.

Despite the high prices, AAA is projecting the third-busiest Fourth of July travel weekend in history thanks to pent-up demand, Montgomery said.

She also said gas prices should continue to decrease over the coming weeks and months.

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