SAN DIEGO — San Diego County’s historically high gas prices are hitting drivers’ wallets like never before. But two county supervisors have proposed a solution they say would ease some of that financial burden.
Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond co-authored a letter released Monday to fellow Board of Supervisors members asking them to back the suspension of California’s 51 cents a gallon gas tax for one year. The proposal comes as gas prices are soaring across the U.S., including in San Diego County which has topped its record for an average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas 18 times in the past 20 days.
“This is not a partisan issue,” said Desmond, who represents District 5. “This is hitting everybody left and right, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on.”
Typically, the gas excise tax pays into transportation costs such as road maintenance and repairs. That fee has been steadily rising since 2017 due to the passage of Senate Bill 1, signed into law by former Gov. Jerry Brown as a mechanism to raise funds for the state highway system and the local street and road system.
Desmond and Anderson’s joint proposal calls to temporarily suspend the fee with Desmond citing the state’s sizable budget surplus.
“There is a $45 billion excess there of our money at the state,” Desmond said. “A one-year reprieve is about $6 billion.”
According to AAA, gas prices in the U.S. reached their highest levels since 2008 on Sunday.
University of San Diego economics professor Alan Gin told FOX 5 that rising prices are the result of the war in Ukraine. He said it’s part of “a lot of uncertainty that’s roiling the world oil markets,” and driving prices up.
With the county’s average of a gallon of regular unleaded gas reaching $5.383 Monday — and reports out of Southern California showing at least one station approaching $7 a gallon — Desmond said their proposal would give drivers a much-needed break.
In a statement to FOX 5, Anderson, who represents District 2, said, “People in my district are suffering from these high gas prices. That’s why I was eager to join Supervisor Desmond in co-authoring this board letter.”
If enough supervisors agree, the board will send the request to Gov. Gavin Newsom. And if the tax were to be sidelined, the impact very likely would be felt by residents throughout the state.
The idea will be voted on at the board’s next meeting held at 9 a.m. March 15.