Published in the Kern County Valley Ag Voice – August 2014 Issue
California farmers are already being hit hard by the effects of the worst drought this state has seen in decades, and now we will have to face a new tax unless the Legislature does something about it.
On January 1, there will be a new 16-cent-per-gallon gas tax due every time we fill up. This new tax was concocted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which is the same board that has already required many of us to unnecessarily pay for overhauls or retrofits to our trucks, farming equipment and pumps. This tax will directly hit our pocketbooks at a cost of $101 to $485 a year per vehicle, or between $2 and $10 billion statewide.
This hidden tax —and let’s be clear, this is a tax even though state bureaucrats are calling it a “fee”—was secretly developed to make us pay for various government programs and subsidies supported by radical environmentalists, such as Governor Brown’s High-Speed Rail (HSR) project. HSR, as you know is a boondoggle that is tearing up prime agricultural farmland in the Valley.
What government bureaucrats and the elite party bosses in Sacramento do not understand is that gasoline isn’t a luxury for most Californians, it is a necessity. Workers have to get to work and farmers still need to have their harvest shipped. Many families still have to drive their children to school, and farmers still need to utilize equipment that uses fuel to grow the food we eat. Ultra-rich urbanites in San Francisco and Los Angeles can opt out of this tax by buying state-subsidized electric cars that won’t have to pay for this new gas tax. Most working families and businesses don’t have that option.
I’m especially worried about the folks who live and work in our Valley.
We’re still trying to recover from the effects of the recession. Unemployment and poverty rates in some of our communities are double or triple the statewide rate and there’s real human suffering being caused by the drought. The last thing that people in the Valley need is another hit to their pocketbook.
The impact on our agriculture, transportation and energy industries is equally terrifying for farmers. According to a study by the California Trucking Association, similar radical environmental programs will increase diesel prices 50 percent by 2020. This will cause a lot more than just higher costs for running pumps and tractors. We’ll see increased costs for everything from equipment, shipping fertilizer, drying grains, transporting produce and processing food.
Thankfully opposition is quickly growing as more Californians learn about this hidden tax. I’m proud to stand with other Californians in pressuring urban liberal legislators to take action so that we can eliminate this hidden tax before it can take effect. Recently, legislation was introduced to delay this misguided tax for three years, and I have requested to be a co-author. It is my hope that more legislators from the Valley will also take that step to work together on this legislation so we can stop this tax now, before it is too late.
It’s an uphill battle, but we must do everything that we can to protect farmers, farmworkers and all Californians from higher gasoline taxes. Instead of passing new taxes and fees on Californians, we should be working together to promote only those policies and regulations that provide new economic opportunities and create jobs.
I encourage you to contact Governor Jerry Brown by phone at (916) 445-2841 or fax at (916) 558-3160), and let him know that you oppose this sneaky gas tax.