California drivers are getting a bit of a reprieve in their gas costs. Starting in July, they will have to pay 2.2 cents less for a gallon of gas, according to a divided vote by the Board of Equalization.
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"Lowering the rate is the right thing to do, and I'm sure Californians will welcome this reduction," board Vice Chairman George Runner said in a statement after the agency voted 3 to 2 to pass the reduction, according to The Hill.
While the current rate is $0.30 a gallon and will stay in effect until the end of June, as of July 1, the rate will drop to 27.8 cents a gallon. This will be the third straight year that the Board of Equalization has reduced the excise tax.
Gasoline prices have become lower thanks to the cratering price. The average price in California in $2.31 per gallon, much higher than the national average of $1.71 per gallon. California has the fourth highest tax rate for gasoline in the country as well. On top of that, drivers pay 18.4 cents in federal excise tax and another 10.62 cents in state fees and taxes.
These taxes are generally used to keep roads and bridges safe and updated. The taxes result in nearly $5.4 billion for the state's Motor Vehicle Fuel Account.
The reduction in tax will take $328 million away from roads and mass transit programs in 2017, but the board believes that it may even out with people buy more gas.
Runner voted for reducing the excise tax as did Fiona Ma and Diane Harkey. Board member Jerome Horton and Deputy Controller Yvette Stowers — sitting in for state Controller Betty T. Yee — voted no.
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"While I'm happy to help lower the price at the pump, to have a true impact for constituents we need to work on eliminating the extra fees from the cost of cap and trade being extended to the oil refineries in the state and the Low Carbon Fuel Standards that have driven up California's gas costs, making it some of the most expensive fuel in the nation," Harkey, a Republican from Laguna Niguel, said in a statement.