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Democrats deliver yet another gas tax hike!

The Democrats keep putting the thumb screws to you and I.

California gas prices are going up again beyond the Biden policy caused fuel spikes because the Democrats have refused to stop a planned gas tax hike.

California Republicans introduced a bill in January that would have immediately suspended the gas tax in response to the exorbitant prices and backfill the projects from the state’s $45 billion surplus, but the proposal failed to secure enough votes in March. Get that? It failed to secure enough votes? Why? Because Democrats don’t like reducing taxes, period!

Democrats have acknowledged they will miss a key deadline to delay a $500 million gas tax increase set for July 1. Despite inflation at a 40-year high and gas prices $1.55 above the national average, Democrats’ inaction means Californians will be paying even more for their commutes this summer. 

“This is pathetic – Democrats have pretty much given up on providing relief to struggling Californians,” said Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City). “Regular people are having to make hard choices about what part of their household budgets to cut. By allowing yet another gas tax increase, Democratic politicians are making those choices even harder.”

In addition to refusing to suspend the upcoming gas tax increase, legislative Democrats have voted repeatedly against a Republican plan to suspend the entirety of the state gas tax and reduce costs by 50 cents per gallon. A number of other states have passed bipartisan gas tax suspensions, which immediately brought prices down.

If you are curious how long Californians have been waiting since Governor Newsom promised relief from high gas prices, visit our “Capitol Democrats Are All Talk Timer.”

Vice Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee Vince Fong (R-Kern County) said “This inaction by Governor Newsom and Sacramento Democrats in the Legislature is unacceptable when Californians are being crushed by inflation and high gas prices. Even worse, Governor Newsom is allowing gas prices to go up even further knowing that these are difficult financial times for millions of Californians. His failure to act is tone deaf and is truly mind boggling.

“Californians are rightfully frustrated. Assembly Republicans have proposed a temporary suspension of the entire state’s gas tax to provide immediate relief - the time to act is now.”

The average price of a gallon of gas in California is $5.68 – the highest recorded average price – and two weeks ago it was $5.702, according to AAA. A year ago, it was $3.994.

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It’s interesting how the Police Officers Associations are endorsing Republicans for state offices.

Republican Jeff McKay last week was endorsed by the Ceres Peace Officers Association which represents the sworn officers and sergeants of Ceres Police.

McKay, a former Ceres City Councilman, is running for the state Senate.

In the state Assembly District 22 race, 12 local and statewide law enforcement associations have united behind the candidacy of Sergeant Juan Alanis (R-Modesto).

The Stanislaus County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Stanislaus County Sheriffs’ Management Association, Newman Police Officers Association, Gustine Police Officers Association, Stanislaus County Sheriffs’ Supervisors Association have pledged their support.

The San Joaquin County Correctional Officer Association, Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association, Stanislaus County Probation Officers Association are also backing Alanis.

The Turlock Police Officers Association, Ceres Police Officers Association, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations. and former Sheriff Les Weidman all enthusiastically support Alanis for Assembly.

Alanis is currently a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s sergeant who supervises 42 deputies. He has served the county as Patrol Watch Commander, acting police chief, and SWAT Team Member.

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I would like to share my heart in the loss of my former pastor, Gary Rice.

If you attend church you probably know that pastors come and go as God and opportunities call. Pastors are an under-appreciated lot. They don’t get paid what they are worth and they often go above and beyond the call of duty. But Gary Rice was one of my friends when he was my pastor. We are talking way back in the 1990s. He would often invite me to lunch and we'd meet at Rico's Pizza on Hatch Road.

I always tell myself that God puts people where they are for a reason and a season. Gary was in our church for a reason and a season. You see, the church was full of grace and gracious people. In fact, it’s what made me call it home for 27 years. After Gary came to our church, his wife became afflicted with MS – one of the worst forms of it. It eventually took her life and left our pastor and their two children in need of our grace. I can remember how we all hugged him at Evelyn’s funeral, struggling to understand, “God, what was that all about?”

In my mind’s eye I can still see his face struggling to remain in composure as he fought to stay strong for us too. We were grieving too but I felt sorrow for him.

Years later I would be the one being hugged at a memorial service – for my wife Karen, who was taken by leukemia after a year-and-a-half battle. 

When he left the church to go to the Bay Area and then to Coos Bay, we all missed his friendship. He wasn’t just our pastor, he was our friend.

Gary was a great man, always kind and gentle. He was genuinely interested in each person he spoke to. He was always looking for the good in people and he would remark how this person or that person was a “good soul.” I knew a lot of “good souls” in my days at that church who maintain strong stakes in my memory as they moved on.

If you live long enough you will learn how to cope with those who die and move on. I was not quite ready to hear that Gary moved on. Gary was a young 76 years old. Alzheimer’s Disease took his life.

At his memorial service I got to hear details about him that I never knew; how he served our country in the service, how he became a mail carrier but felt the call to be a pastor, how he wanted to reach people with the teachings of Jesus Christ, how he loved nature and how he would tell his new wife, Mary, each Friday, “Let’s go fill our eyes with beauty today” and off they would go on a hike or a walk.

He would sometimes say, “Life is not fair – I have been blessed far more than I deserve.”

If we could all live like Gary Rice did. If we did we would be far more grateful, happier and far more appreciative of the life that God gives us and the people He places in it.

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Over the weekend there was a crash at the Mitchell Road exit of Highway 99. It was placed on social media by another news outlet. One of the comments was from Sharon Handel who posted: “Ceres seems to be having a lot of L.E. (law enforcement) activity.” To which Aubrey Higgins posted: “Ceres is a dive. I stopped at the McDonalds down there and legit had a homeless woman undressing in front of me and my child. Nasty place.”

Somebody else added “Same with Modesto.”

Ceres does have a bad reputation in the county but let’s be honest, it’s not just a Ceres problem. Have you been to Salinas? Fresno? Modesto? Los Angeles? Is there any city where these problems don’t exist, well, maybe except for Gavin Newsom’s elitist community of Tiburon?

Crime is up in California because the politicians you elect are soft on crime and because their policies have led to homelessness, drug abuse, brazen thievery and flooding the borders.

This year is your year to make a difference. Vote Republican for a change.

This column is the opinion of Jeff Benziger, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or 209 Multimedia Corporation. How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at