On July 1, the excise tax on gasoline in California will go up 5.6 cents a gallon, enough to push the state's total taxes and fees past Pennsylvania to become the highest in the nation.
The 5.6-cent increase represents the second iteration of Senate Bill 1, commonly called the gas tax, that was passed by the Legislature in Sacramento in the spring of 2017 and signed into law by then-Gov. Jerry Brown.
Under the terms of SB1, the tax increase comes in stages.
Drivers first experienced a 12-cent per gallon rise at the pump in November 2017. An additional 5.6 cents per gallon will be tacked on at the beginning of next month, which will boost the state's total excise tax to 41.7 cents a gallon.
Add in other state taxes and fees plus the federal government's own 18.4 cents a gallon excise tax and Golden State motorists will pay 79.18 cents a gallon in taxes and fees whenever they fuel up.
That will move California into the top spot in the country, edging past the 77.1 cents a gallon drivers in Pennsylvania pay in combined taxes and fees, according to state-by-state data compiled by the American Petroleum Institute.
"What it means is California is probably never going to see sub-$2 (a gallon) prices again, unless it's done artificially," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, a tech company that helps motorists find the cheapest gasoline in a given area.
"Even at $2 and change, one-third of it is going to the state and other taxes," DeHaan said. "So it's just going to make the norm for gas prices higher and higher and it's just inevitable that in time California is going to ultimately reach all-time high gas prices and taxation is going to be a bigger part of the equation than it's ever been before."
At the same time, the impact of the 5.6 cents per gallon increase may be muted because it comes as gasoline prices in California are heading lower.
After cracking the $4 a gallon mark for regular in mid-April, the average price in the state has retreated as some California refineries that had been sidelined due to fires and scheduled maintenance have come back online.