The Desert IndependentTM

Serving Blythe and the Desert Regions of the Southwest Since 2001


Californians Motoring More

Guest Opinion by DIANE L. HARKEY
To The Desert Independent

May 17, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif – More Californians hit the highway in the fourth quarter of 2015 than 2014, with drivers purchasing 3,798,626,428 gallons of gasoline in 2015 compared to 3,714,745,430 in 2014, announced Board of Equalization (BOE) Vice Chair Diane Harkey. This is the most gasoline purchased in the fourth quarter since 2007 when drivers bought 3,901,706,956 gallons – 2.7 percent more than this year.

The average fourth quarter price for gasoline in 2015 was $2.63 per gallon (minus sales tax), according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. This is the lowest fourth quarter price for gasoline since 2008, when it was $2.39 per gallon.

Falling gas prices and lower unemployment figures likely account for the increase in gasoline consumption, according to BOE’s Chief Economist.

This is a positive sign that our state’s economy is improving,” said Vice Chair Harkey.

Gasoline excise tax revenue for the fourth quarter of 2015 is estimated at $1,138,215,481 and sales tax is estimated at $322,995,392. Excise tax funds highways and mass transit, while sales tax revenue from gasoline funds various local government programs.

Diesel consumption rose in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 714,843,582 gallons compared to 709,745,380 in 2014. This is a 0.7 percent increase.

The average base price of diesel in the fourth quarter of 2015 was $2.35 per gallon. In 2012, it was $3.68 per gallon in the fourth quarter.

According to the BOE’s Chief Economist, higher diesel consumption is consistent with a growing economy.

Diesel excise tax revenue for fourth quarter 2015 is estimated at $101,760,573. Sales tax revenue for diesel was $159,464,544 in the fourth quarter.

Vice Chair Diane L. Harkey was elected to the Board of Equalization in November 2014 to represent the Fourth Equalization District, which includes approximately 9.5 million Californians located in Orange County, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial, and a portion of San Bernardino Counties. Previously, Ms. Harkey served in the California State Assembly from 2008 to 2014. As a Member of the State Assembly, she served as Vice Chair for the Assembly Committees on Revenue and Taxation and Appropriations. Ms. Harkey graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of California, Irvine.

The five-member California State Board of Equalization (BOE) is a publicly elected tax board. The BOE collects $60.5 billion annually in taxes and fees, supporting state and local government services. It hears business tax appeals, acts as the appellate body for franchise and personal income tax appeals, and serves a significant role in the assessment and administration of property taxes. For more information on other taxes and fees in California, visit the California Tax Service Center.

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