SAN DIEGO — California’s gas tax is set to automatically increase July 1, which is estimated to add about 3 cents per gallon to the cost drivers pay at the pump.

This comes as gas prices are high, but have been dropping in recent days, after setting a record on June 15. Gas in the San Diego area hit a record-high $6.37 that day, according to data from AAA.

The current average gas price in San Diego is $6.25, the state average is $6.28 and the national average is $4.85. Gas prices are about $2 more per gallon this Fourth of July weekend compared to last year’s holiday, which means filling up a 14 gallon car is costing about $28 more each time you fill up.

Before the scheduled increase takes effect, California’s gas tax is already the highest in the country, at 51 cents per gallon.

“You’re kidding, oh my God, increasing it, what do you got to do cut off your arm and leg now for some gas, it’s terrible,” John Lukaseky said, as he filled up his car in Poway Thursday. “Three cents too much that’s for sure.”

“It’s skyrocketed for sure,” John Pierson said. His motorcycle costs him about 50 percent more to fill up than in the past he said. “Write your congressman or state legislature and let’s reduce the gas tax,” Pierson added.

Although gas prices are at near-record levels, Fourth of July travel is expected to be the largest since the pandemic.

“Even with the higher pump prices, people still go by automobile because it’s the most economical way to go,” Doug Shupe, the spokesperson for Auto Club of Southern California said.

Carl DeMaio, Chairman of Reform California, has planned protests and signature signing rallies at gas stations in California Friday.

“We have the highest gas tax in the country, when you take a look at the state of California gas tax, the excise tax, the sales tax in the cap-and-trade tax on a gallon of gas is $1.26 with this latest increase it’ll be $1.29 per gallon,” DeMaio said. “For the California taxpayer protection act we’ve collected 1.25 million signatures we need another 150 thousand in the next three weeks to finish the job in place that measure on the ballot that would’ve prevented this gas tax from going into effect.”

Volunteers with Reform California plan to collect signatures on the ballot measure at gas stations in San Diego, including at ARCO on Home Avenue Friday.

Money collected through the state’s gas tax goes toward road and highway improvement projects, plus other infrastructure priorities including expanded public transportation. Proponents say that in addition to funding critical programs, the gas tax is part of a broader vision to move away from the use of fossil fuels, which help drive climate change.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a plan in January that would pause the gas tax increase for a year, but a significant number of state lawmakers did not agree to the plan.

State Republicans and some Democrats have said they are interested in pausing the gas tax and providing relief for California drivers.

In a last-minute effort to try and put a stop to the scheduled increase, California State Sen. Brian Jones, R-Santee, forced two votes in the state capitol Wednesday and Thursday to try to suspend the state gas tax, but the efforts were not successful.

“Many of us have been fighting for several months to get the 54 cents per gallon state gas tax suspended,” Jones said in a statement. “Last night on the Senate Floor I offered amendments to suspend the gas tax for one year and replace any loss of transportation project funding by tapping into the $100 billion state budget surplus. This morning we attempted to amend my Senate Bill 1403 on the Assembly Floor with new language to suspend the planned gas tax hike scheduled to go into effect July 1st. Both our efforts unfortunately were defeated by Democrat legislators who employed partisan parliamentary tricks to keep the state gas tax intact, and in fact increasing.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced California plans to give residents up to $1,050, in what the governor is calling a new “middle class tax rebate,” part of an “inflation relief package” in California’s budget, Newsom announced Sunday.