Republican lawmakers in California gathered Monday to call on the state to repeal its 50-cent gas tax as pump prices continue to set daily records.
However, some economists think cutting the tax could do more harm than good.
Drivers say the higher prices are hitting them hard, and some are already curtailing non-essential journeys to try and save as much money as possible.
Others say they have to drive, so they cut spending elsewhere.
This is the case of university student David Lima, who has seen the cost of his weekly commute skyrocket.
“Now I spend about $200 a week,” he said, “and as a full-time student, that kinda sucks because I have to save money.”
Among other cuts, Lima said he no longer goes out on weekends.
In the early days after Russia invaded Ukraine, many drivers said they would be willing to pay at the pumps if it meant punishing Russia.
But with prices continuing to rise almost daily, some are now wondering how long this will last.
“I don’t know why it’s more expensive,” said San Francisco resident Max Montecinos, “because we only get 1% from Russia and I don’t know why it’s expensive here.”
Speaking outside a gas station in Sacramento, several Republican lawmakers pushed for a trio of bills that would suspend or eliminate California’s 50-cent-per-gallon tax.
Critics say the move would only hurt California’s infrastructure spending.
“We can do it,” said Suzette Valladares, member of the National Assembly. “With the surplus we have, we can fill projects in transport, which is why we have this additional tax for infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, economists who study the energy sector warn that cutting the gas tax may not bring relief to customers. It could actually permanently cut infrastructure funding if suspended indefinitely.
“Some of that gas tax reduction will be captured by gasoline producers,” explained Andy Campbell, executive director of the UC Berkeley Energy Institute, “maybe gas stations, maybe refineries”.
There are also other options on the table.
During his state of the state address, Governor Gavin Newsom suggested rebate checks sent directly to California drivers, funded in part by the state’s projected budget surplus.