The state Board of Equalization on Tuesday approved lowering the statewide excise tax rate on gasoline by 2.2 cents.
The 3-2 vote for approval at the BOE meeting in Culver City means the tax will decrease from 30 cents to 27.8 cents per gallon effective July 1 and remain there through June 30, 2017. It marked the third consecutive year that BOE lowered the rate.
Under guidelines of a complicated gas tax formula signed in 2010 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, BOE annually adjusts the state’s gasoline excise tax rate by March 1 each year.
Six years ago, state leaders adopted the “fuel tax swap” formula to help bridge a budget deficit. The excise tax rate is calculated in a way that has motorists pay the same amount in overall taxes at the pump that they would have paid otherwise.
However, a couple of factors could disrupt the historical norm. For one, BOE recently reported that gasoline consumption in California rose 2.4 percent during the 2014-15 fiscal year, the largest annual increase since the 2003-04 fiscal year and a likely byproduct of the Golden State’s improving economy.
Secondly, Golden State gasoline prices have been unusually low of late, which analysts have attributed to adequate fuel supplies and low crude-oil prices.
On Tuesday, AAA said the average price of unleaded regular gas in California was $2.31 a gallon, down 37 cents from last month and 64 cents below the year-ago level.
In Fresno, AAA said regular was selling for $2.20 a gallon on average. That’s 27 cents below last month’s average and a decrease of 69 cents from a year ago. The price in Kings and Tulare county is 6 cents less, $2.14 a gallon – off 33 cents from a month and 69 cents less than last year.
The 2.25 percent gas sales tax funds local government programs; the state excise tax funds statewide highway and mass-transit projects.