A bill that would have thwarted an expected huge jump in gas cost on Jan. 1 was killed by the state Senate on Aug. 21.
Former Ceres resident and State Senator Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, co-authored legislation in Senate Bill 1079 that would have halted a proposed increase in gas and fuel taxes in 2015. That measure was being held in the Senate Rules Committee. On Aug. 21 an alternative effort brought the issue before the Senate, and it was rejected on a party line vote.
"It is estimated the price of gas will jump up somewhere between 16 cents and 76 cents a gallon, and no one up here seems to care. That's crazy," said Berryhill. "This is an absolute hit on your wallet, especially in rural areas where there is little choice but to drive. Unlike urban areas, in my district you pretty much have to get in your car to go to the grocery store, school, or any other areas. This tax hike will hurt."
Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will require companies selling fuels in California to comply with the cap-and-trade program. Fuel prices for consumers are expected to jump from 16 cents to 76 cents a gallon as a result of this change. SB 1079, as well as the amendments offered, would have exempt transportation fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, and natural gas, from this program.
"Plain and simple, CARB is holding people hostage," said Berryhill. "For most of us gas isn't a luxury. It's a necessity. The Legislature had the chance to tell CARB ‘enough' but it didn't. Very disappointing."
State Senator Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, authored the bill, which was supported by all Republicans.
California already has the highest gas prices in the nation. According to GasBuddy, the average cost for gasoline in California is $4.12 per gallon and the national average is $3.68.
"Communities that I represent already suffer from extreme poverty and some of the highest unemployment rates in the state and the country. Our food banks are overwhelmed with people waiting in food lines and our farmers have to fallow fields because of the drought," said Vidak. "This is an unfair hidden tax that will hurt vulnerable Californians the most. It must be stopped."
On May 23, Vidak attended the launch of the "Fed Up at the Pump" campaign at the 3 B's Truck and Auto Plaza in Lodi. "Fed Up at the Pump" is a grassroots coalition of business owners and their employees, consumers and advocates who are concerned about the negative impact the hidden gas tax will have on California, especially the Central Valley.