SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego drivers are already bracing for a 12 cent gas tax increase in November, but the state may raise the gas tax by another 5 cents just months later.
Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill increasing the per-gallon tax to help fix roads and highways. The law raises the per-gallon tax by 12 cents to 41.7 cents per gallon, but a deeper look into the new bill shows Californians could be hit by a second increase in the first year.
"We have no choice," said San Diegan Gloria Oliver. "They just don't ask permission from us, they just do it."
It's because the new bill left the current gas tax system in place - called the Fuel Tax Swap - for one more year. The state adopted that system in 2010 to redirect some gas tax money to battle the recession. It requires adjusting the gas tax every July based on a complex formula on price and consumption.
California Department of Finance officials confirmed to 10News that projection is another nickel on a gallon of gas.
"This is ridiculous," said Courtney Sewell of La Mesa. "Are you going to charge me to breathe next?"
Under the new bill, in November, the gas tax increases by 12 cents to 41.7 cents per gallon.
Then, it's scheduled to increase to 47.3 cents in July 2019.
But before that, the Fuel Tax Swap system still in place could bring an increase to 46.7 cents in July 2018. That increase is based on what a state official said was conservative projections, but it could change based on results.
The new tax will raise $52 billion over a decade for roads, freeways and bridges. A spokesman for the governor says this process was outlined in the bill analysis.
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"Fixing our roads is basic," Brown said while campaigning for the bill. "If you don't do it now it gets more expensive next year and the year after. California is united and we are united together to build a great state, and you build a great state by investing in our roads."
Sewell said it's worth fixing the roads, but the costs are getting out of hand.
"It's ridiculous here in California," she said. "It really is."