Francis Taylor, Asst. Publisher

California’s gas prices increased another 5.6 cents a gallon on Monday and California drivers struggle to hold on to their wallets as the state continues to lead the nation with the highest gas prices in the United States.

It’s the latest increase from a 2017 law designed to raise about $5 billion a year for road and mass transit programs.

A 12 cent-per-gallon boost came that November, and voters last year rejected a Republican-led effort to repeal the law. But Southern California voters did recall one Democratic lawmaker who helped pass the measure.

California motorists were paying an average $3.75 per gallon as of late June, far above the national average of $2.71 calculated by AAA .

The gas tax will increase to 47.3 cents a gallon July 1, according to the state Board of Equalization, and continue to increase indefinitely starting next year to keep up with the California Consumer Price Index.

The money is split between state and local governments, with much of going to fix potholes and rebuild crumbling roads and bridges. Some is also going to public transportation, biking and walking trails, and other projects.

Republicans pointed out again that the tax is increasing even as Gov. Gavin Newsom and fellow Democrats complained about high gas prices.

Newsom in April blamed possible “inappropriate industry practices” rather than higher taxes and stricter environmental laws, and California Energy Commission investigators subsequently pointed the finger at “possible market manipulation” by retailers.

The impending 5.6 cents per gallon boost “will make California less affordable and take another $850 million out of our families’ pocketbooks,” said Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove of Bakersfield. Assembly Republicans floated an amendment to delay the increase, but majority Democrats blocked the attempt two weeks before the increase takes effect.

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