SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL/KGET) — State lawmakers are now trying to take new action in response to skyrocketing gas prices.
A group of 13 assembly Democrats sent a letter to the governor and legislative leaders, urging they postpone the 3-cent inflationary increase to the state’s gas tax for a year.
In the letter, they wrote, “the cost of doing nothing is unacceptable.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom originally proposed the idea in January, but it needed legislative approval by May 1 in order to stop it from going into effect July 1.
Lawmakers let that deadline pass without putting together a bill, with legislative leaders concerned the idea would take away key funding from road projects.
Now, pointing to the state’s $100 billion budget surplus, some Democrats are changing course.
But Newsom’s Department of Finance confirmed Friday that the window for that pause on the gas tax closed when lawmakers didn’t take action. The California Department of Taxes and Fee administration needs 60 days to make the change.
Meanwhile, a separate group of Democrats is calling for an investigation into the state’s skyrocketing gas prices.
The group notes Californians are paying an average of $1.80 more per gallon of gas than they were four months ago, a nearly 40% increase in a short amount of time.
State lawmakers sent a letter to the California Energy Commission, the state attorney general, and legislative analyst with a series of questions to help with this investigation.
Those questions include why did the price of gas increase when the price of crude oil fell?
Why do Californians continue to pay between 30-50 cents for a mystery surcharge after the temporary refinery disruption seven years ago that was apparently to blame?
What steps can the state take if there is evidence of price manipulation?
The group is also asking state leaders to weigh in on reducing the gas tax and if there are any assurances those savings would be passed on to customers.
Meanwhile, Republicans for months have been calling for a temporary suspension of the tax and criticize Democrats for taking months to figure out how to send relief to taxpayers.
“We need action now. We’ve been calling since January to suspend the gas tax — the quickest, easiest way to provide relief to every California consumer on gas prices right now,” Assembly Member James Gallagher, R-Yuba City said.
Nexstar affiliate FOX40 was told Democrats on Monday are planning on having a press conference to talk more about the gas price investigation.