If you wonder why Southern California consistently has the highest gas prices in the nation, look no further.

Besides requiring more expensive, environmentally friendly blends, the state taxes your fuel at a pretty steep rate. And, starting today, you'll have the privilege of paying another 3.5 cents a gallon at the pump:

Yes, July 1 is the day a 3.5 cent per-gallon tax increase kicks in. Just in time for your summer road-trip season. Just in time for this so-called economic recovery.

Nothing says go out and spend like a government that takes more of your money.

California's total take from the pump is going to be nearly 72 cents a gallon, a national high, when you add up sales tax and this excise tax increase.

Credit: Jena Ardell for LA Weekly

Credit: Jena Ardell for LA Weekly

The state Board of Equalization says the tax was formulated so that your overall tax bill at the pump would be “revenue neutral.” In other words, the state is making projections based on gas prices to ensure that this doesn't hurt. That much.

But some folks are angry that the state legislature allowed the board to do this, essentially bypassing a law that requires special taxes to see a two-third “supermajority” vote from you, the people.

The good news, however, is that the extra cash will go to mass transit and to building and fixing our craptastic state highways.

And the average driver (15,000 miles a year, 20 miles per gallon) would only see a $26.25 increase in gas taxes per year under this decidedly undemocratic deal, according to the Board of Equalization.

Happy motoring.

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