California Gas Tax Should be Delayed - Brian W. Jones

California Gas Tax Should be Delayed

San Diego Union-Tribune
While a tax at any level directly affects businesses and consumers, the most detrimental tax that can go into effect is one that people are not aware of. Such is the case with the new hidden gas tax that is being pushed through by regulators at the...

California Air Resources Board (CARB). The new gas tax will spike the cost of gas at least 15 cents starting next year and will only increase moving forward.

Thankfully, there is a bipartisan effort to help delay the tax. Without the work of our legislators, the new hidden gas tax could stifle our recovering economy, with the biggest strain falling on the backs of working families.

It takes a lot of gas to keep the 8th-largest economy working. We need our vehicles to get everything done in our busy day. We travel through the streets and along highways to take our kids to soccer practice or grab something from the grocery store for dinner and to get to work. The cost of convenient transportation is already high. The new gas tax could end up costing families hundreds more a year.

Most of us drive our vehicles not by choice, but out of necessity. We don’t choose to buy gas any more than we choose to buy food.

California has the highest gas prices and the second highest gas taxes in the country — 68.1 cents, second only to New York’s 68.9 cents. That’s why a gas tax increase, at any level, will be detrimental to our state.

CARB doesn’t see it that way, apparently. Using AB 32, the landmark bill that created the state’s cap-and-trade program, CARB created a new uncapped fuel tax to pay for more government programs. The new tax will cost consumers at least $2 billion or more in taxes in 2015 alone. CARB has set up the program to continue to limit the amount of gasoline sold in California every year beginning in 2015. The cap-and-trade program was designed to combat climate change, not to generate billions in new revenue for CARB.

This hit will be devastating not just for my business, but for everyone that depends on me to transport goods to their local stores and facilities. The trucking and transportation sector is dependent on fuel availability and costs to remain competitive. There is no way around it.

Living close to the border, staying competitive is always a struggle, especially with lower gas prices in neighboring states. My business is just beginning to recover from the recession and the reality is I could not compete with out-of-state business if our already higher gas prices get another jolt. And worse yet, the new hidden gas tax will increase the cost of our services and ultimately will be passed down to increase the cost of goods for consumers.

People have the right to know how much they’re paying and what their tax dollars are going toward. Right now, the new hidden gas tax will fund government pet projects, with little proof that they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as they claim. Californians are not paying a new hidden tax to improve our climate, we are paying to create more failed government projects.

I commend Henry Perea for introducing legislation, AB 69, to delay the tax for three years. The delay will give the legislators time to review the impacts of the hidden gas tax and also give businesses and consumers time to plan for how they will cover the cost. More than 40 Democrat and Republican legislators have also begun efforts to delay the tax by putting pressure on CARB and the governor to address the impact this will have on consumers and the economy. We need an open and transparent process to evaluate the tax, which AB 69 does.

Please stand up and support our state leaders who are working to delay the tax to ensure working families and businesses are protected from skyrocketing gas prices. I am a member of the Tank the Tax group, comprised of consumers and businesses and we are holding regional press conferences throughout the state to raise awareness about this issue. On Friday, Weber Logistics will be hosting Assembly member Brian Jones, the San Diego Farm Bureau and members of the community to stand together and ask for a delay of this tax and support for AB 69. Contact your state representatives and urge them to support AB 69.

Drajpuch is president and CEO of Weber Logistics in San Diego.

© Copyright 2014 The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. An MLIM LLC Company. All rights reserved.