Sacramento politicians have said the gas tax will only set people back $10 a week. But, the largest gas tax in the history of California does more harm than Sacramento wants you to know.
When the establishment politicians present their talking points and statistics on the impact of the gas tax, Californians see a picture filtered to hide the ugly truth. The real costs for commuters include sacrifices to savings, food budgets and family activities. Real problems with real hardship.
Sure, for the fortunate few, they might have to miss a couple of coffees a week, but this reality only applies to the outliers in California. A tech worker in San Francisco won’t worry about a gas tax when their commute consists of a 20-minute walk or using their taxpayer-subsidized Tesla to make the drive into work. Opposition to a gas tax increase becomes rare when you can afford to live close to work or purchase a new, fuel efficient vehicle.
I, however, come from a community with a very different point of view. Before the vote on the gas tax increase, I spoke with dozens of people from my district to really understand how this would impact their daily lives. Juan Robles, husband and father, drives 200 miles a day selling rocks from a quarry. He’s not sure his company will be able to stay in California because of increased taxes. This doesn’t seem like just a $10 cost for Juan.
Brett Murray, veteran, husband and father, drives 80 miles a day to work as a park ranger. Brett and his wife have been saving every penny to afford a down payment on their first home. With an increased gas tax, he’s not sure if he can keep saving money toward that dream. Sacramento hasn’t spoken to people like Brett or they would have never made the claim that the cost of the gas tax is only $10 for Californians. It just isn’t that simple.
There are hundreds of stories like Juan’s and Brett’s where hardworking Californians now fear for their livelihoods; ordinary folks who cannot afford to buy a new Tesla but rely on older, less fuel efficient vehicles. The wealthiest Californians will not be affected by this legislation, anyone can see that. The Californians that need the most help will pay for the tax while elites and special interests reap the benefit.
It’s sad that ignoring everyday Californians has become common practice in Sacramento.
Politicians forced through this legislation in a manner that speaks volumes. Special interests paid high-dollar lobbyists to advance their agenda at the Capitol. Politicians wrote the plan behind closed doors, used bully tactics to intimidate the opposition, and handed out a billion dollars in pork to buy the votes they needed from legislators sitting on the fence.
Big money and backdoor deals have become the way the establishment gets things get done.
You have to hand it to them: Sacramento has done a decent job of framing the gas tax in a positive light. A $10 per week tax may not sound like the worst thing in the world. But for those who have asked the right questions, we know the real cost is much higher.
If Californians only took off the establishment’s pretty filter, they would see a clear picture of what Sacramento has become. And it isn’t pretty.