Two central San Joaquin Valley Republicans are pushing for a legislative act that would eliminate the impending cap-and-trade gas tax.
Assembly Member Jim Patterson of Fresno and Sen. Andy Vidak of Hanford both announced that they’ll introduce the Affordable Gas for California Families Act on Monday. It would exempt transportation fuels including natural gas from the cap-and-trade program. It’s a last-gasp effort; transportation fuels are scheduled to be covered by the program beginning in January.
Gas prices are expected to go up because of the program — by some estimates ranging from 13 cents to as much as 76 cents per gallon.
California’s cap-and-trade program is part of the state’s 2006 emissions-reducing law. It requires industries to buy pollution allowances for carbon they release into the air. Earlier this year, Assembly Member Henry T. Perea, a Fresno Democrat, failed in an effort to delay by three years putting transportation fuels under the cap-and-trade program.
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Perea has said the fight is over, and it’s time to lobby to make sure that the Valley gets a good shake in distribution of the more than $200 million the tax will generate. On Oct. 31, state officials said that money will be invested in the census tracts of California’s most disadvantaged communities — about 20% of which are in the San Joaquin Valley.
Patterson and Vidak are still fighting. In a statement, Patterson said, “We’re all enjoying the lowest gas prices in years but when the gas tax kicks in, we will feel the pinch at every level of our economy and we know that low-income families will be hit hardest. From the dining room table to our favorite restaurant, even the gas budgets at our school districts will be impacted, which means less money goes towards educating our kids.”
Patterson and Vidak said they’ll introduce their legislation Monday at 10 a.m. after Capitol swearing-in ceremonies. They’ve invited several people from their districts including Cheryl and David Salter from Madera-based Salter’s Distributing and Steve Ward, the legislative analyst for the Clovis Unified School District.