I'm a Democrat and it's time for our government to stop making gas more expensive
Gas taxes hurt our families and our economy while penalizing folks who are just trying to get by
This morning, families across California’s Central Valley paid more than $75 to fill a standard fifteen gallon tank on their way to work. If they drive a pickup truck, they probably paid more like $120 to fill up.
What folks need to know is when they pump their gas in California, they pay more than a dollar a gallon between state and federal taxes. That means government is making a $3 gallon $4 and a $4 gallon $5.
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These taxes are supposed to go toward fixing our roads and bridges, but here’s the kicker: our families are getting taxed twice at the pump for a service - rebuilding our infrastructure -- they’re only getting back once.
After the federal government just approved the largest infrastructure bill in a generation, a bill so full of funding that it dwarfs every state’s gas tax revenue, states are still charging families a hefty tax at the pump!
So what can actually be done to fix these insane gas prices? The president has some power to help (and President Biden’s decision to release 50 million barrels of oil from the strategic reserve is a good one) but there’s only so much he can do. Now that the federal government is finally investing in infrastructure, it’s time we cut gas taxes and give our families a break.
Right now, California’s highest in the nation gas tax is costing drivers more than 50 cents a gallon. Similar taxes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and across the country are forcing drivers to pay even more just so they can make it to work and back.
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State governments, soon to receive billions in federal infrastructure money, shouldn’t fleece drivers to pay for roads and bridges the federal government is already paying to fix, especially as businesses are recovering from the pandemic. Instead, state lawmakers across the country should freeze and lower these gas taxes to put money back in the pockets of working families.
In my state of California, as just one example, Sacramento lawmakers expected the gas tax to raise $5 billion per year when it was implemented in 2017. They could not have predicted they would gain a $31 billion budget surplus in 2022 and receive almost $30 billion in federal dollars from the new bipartisan infrastructure law.
So good news -- they should see the tax needs to be reevaluated now that they have more than enough money to repair their roads and bridges, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case. There has been zero movement to cut the tax.
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As long as consumers have to bear gas prices in the $5, $4 or $3 per gallon range, lawmakers need to wake up and see they are part of the problem. Of course we need to make sure our projects are fully paid for, but we shouldn’t put the burden on working families. Especially in a time like this one.
Gas taxes hurt our families and our economy while penalizing folks who are just trying to get by.
Now that we’ve finally made federal investments in our infrastructure and our state governments are running surpluses like we’ve never seen before, it’s time we bring the cost of gas back down to Earth by cutting gas taxes across the country.
Democrat Josh Harder represents California’s 10th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.