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High gas prices become a campaign issue in California

October 9, 2012 |  9:01 am

GetprevSkyrocketing gas prices have created a new issue for California candidates to grapple with ahead of the Nov. 6 election, and could affect  some of the tax measures on the ballot, observers say.

Assemblyman Jeff Miller (R-Corona), who is locked in a tight Senate contest with Democrat Richard Roth in Riverside County, has jumped on the issue, proposing that the governor call a special session of the Legislature to temporarily suspend state gas taxes that add about 35 cents to a gallon of gas.

The high gas prices "potentially can have an Armageddon-like effect on our economy," Miller said, calling Gov. Jerry Brown’s order Sunday for an early switch of fuel blends "not enough, and it may be too late.’’

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who is up for reelection, has called for an investigation in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, accusing the agency of  “failing to take action to protect California consumers from malicious trading schemes in the California gasoline market.”

Meanwhile, Joel Fox, president of the Small Business Action Committee, said on his Fox and Hounds blog that higher gas prices could also hurt the various tax measures on the Nov. 6 ballot, including Brown’s Proposition 30 which increases sales taxes, including those paid on gasoline.

"Higher prices for gasoline and an [increased] cost for products affected by gas prices could reverberate in the voting booth," Fox wrote. "With rising consumer costs, just mention of the word 'tax' may move a voter’s marker to fill in the 'no' box."


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--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Gasoline prices at a service station in San Francisco last week. Credit: John G. Mabanglo / EPA