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Bipartisan group proposes year-long gas tax suspension

Source: Fox40

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A group of bipartisan state lawmakers is now pushing for a year-long suspension of the state’s gas tax.

This comes as lawmakers said talks are stalling on the relief Californians were promised nearly two months ago.

“We have stalled out at a time when the state cannot afford to stall out,” said Assembly Member Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo.

A group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Thursday announced they’re pushing for a year-long suspension of the state’s 51-cent gas tax.

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“This is a common-sense idea that gets immediate relief to drivers and does it the right way,” said Assembly Member Adam Gray, D-Merced.

In a statement, state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said suspending the tax is not the way to address the issue.

“As we’ve said before, suspending the gas tax would reduce critical funds available for road repair and improvement projects. The better for Families Rebate that the Legislature has proposed would provide the most meaningful relief to most California families. WE are continuing to work through the budget process to get financial help to Californians as quickly as possible,”  Atkins and Rendon said in a statement.

The group that dubs itself the “Problem Solvers Caucus” is calling on the governor and legislative leaders to make it happen soon. Drivers in California are set to see an increase to the state’s gas tax related to inflation in July.

“We need to get it done now. We can’t wait anymore,” said Assembly Member Carlos Villapudua, D-Stockton.

The announcement comes as budget officials in the State Senate project California’s budget surplus could be $68 billion this year.

“It’s ridiculous that while the state’s coffers are overflowing with cash, average Californians are struggling to buy the basics,” said Assembly Member Suzette Martinez Valladares, R-Santa Clarita.

The group proposed using funds from the budget surplus to backfill funding for transportation projects.

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The previous push for a gas tax holiday was a non-starter for some Democrats who were concerned the savings wouldn’t be passed onto customers.

Lawmakers said this bill would provide tools and state oversight to make sure the tax cut reaches drivers.

“This legislation shows problems get solved when we put our red and blue jerseys away,” said Assembly Member Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale.

Meanwhile, the governor and legislative leaders want to send direct payments to Californians but are debating how. Gov. Gavin Newsom gave an update earlier this week.

“Legislature made proposals; I made a proposal. It’s just about reconciling the modest differences and some technical strategies on how best to distribute the money,” Newsom said.

How soon Californians could see relief is still to be determined.