No matter where you go in Los Angeles County, prices at the pump are at record highs. The average price per gallon rose 62 cents in a week and depending on where you fill up can range from a low of $5.50 per gallon to a high of $7.55. And that’s just this week. With President Joe Biden’s ban of Russian oil, natural gas and coal imports to the U.S., gasoline prices are expected to spike even higher, all of which points to economic hardship for many already struggling with high rents or commuting to places like the Inland Empire for more affordable housing.
“I’m commuting into Los Angeles three times a week for my job and its costing me over $80 to fill my gas tank every few days. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Nora Jones, a mother of three who moved out of L.A. because of rent increases.
“I can no longer afford to drive my car,” said Brandon, who has parked his SUV and is now opting to take the Metro.
Long lines at discount gas stations have become commonplace as a growing number of drivers and commuters look to apps like GasBuddy and Gas Guru to scout stations with the lowest gas prices.
One woman shook her head in frustration as she pumped gas, stating “It’s hard enough with all the other basic living costs that are so high. Then comes COVID. Now this. It’s just too much.”
No end in sight for the pain at the pump could translate into spell trouble for California Democrats who have been slammed by Republican lawmakers seeking to suspend California’s gas tax, citing the negative and disproportionate impacts on communities of color and low income residents.
In fact, U.S. governors around the nation are proposing tax cuts, rebates and other forms of relief to drivers in light of the soaring gas prices. Six governors — from Michigan, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico and Pennsylvania — jointly urged Congress to suspend the federal 18.4-cents-per-gallon gas tax until the end of 2022.
In his Annual State of the State address, Governor Gavin Newsom said he was working with legislative leaders on “a proposal to put money back in Californians’ pockets to address rising gas prices” and had proposed a tax rebate, the details of which are reportedly being worked out.
“It’s substantial amount of money,” said Dee Dee Myers, the governor’s senior advisor and director of the Office of Business and Economic Development of the plan to assist California residents who own cars.
In response to the Governor’s plan, California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, indicated that they were working on a plan as well, releasing the following joint statement: “Californians are rightfully upset at the skyrocketing cost of fuel. The Legislature will put the state’s robust revenue growth to work by returning substantial tax relief to families and small businesses as fast as possible. Gas, food and other prices are up, so our focus cannot be a small cut to the gas tax that might not get passed on to consumers. Instead, the Legislature will seek tax relief from the General Fund. More details will be developed as the state’s revenue picture becomes clearer.”
In the meantime, the Automobile Club have advised that Californians can save money on gas by making sure their tires are properly maintained, avoiding “jackrabbit” starts and hard accelerations, driving at the speed limit, minimizing the use of air conditioning, removing unnecessary bulky items from their cars and avoiding extended idling.