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State gas tax set to rise Monday

Get ready to spend a bit more at the pump, beginning Monday.

That's when a 3.5-cent-per-gallon state tax increase kicks in on gas.

The hike was approved by the state Board of Equalization in February and will give the Golden State the highest gas tax in the nation, at almost 72 cents per gallon.

“Frustrated” was how Nate Eiseman, of Santa Rosa said it makes him feel.

“You don't know where, or who, it's going to,” said the junior high school teacher, who put $10 worth of gas into his pickup Saturday evening at the Shell station on College Avenue, east of Highway 101.

“I think it will make a difference. I work in Marin,” said Geraldina Romero of Santa Rosa, who had just put $40 into her Audi sedan.

“Yeah it will be more expensive,” said Romero, a Marin County social services employee.

A divided Board of Equalization voted 3-2 to raise the excise tax on a gallon of gas from 36 cents per gallon to 39.5 cents per gallon, largely to make up for tax revenue shortfalls in past years. Additional sales and federal taxes boost the total tax per gallon to 71.9 cents.

The increase was approved under a complicated gas tax swap that eliminated most sales taxes on fuel purchases in favor of a higher excise tax.

The increase is calculated to add $26.25 more a year for a person who drives 15,000 miles and gets 20 miles per gallon.

A gallon of regular gas in the Santa Rosa area averaged $3.97 on Saturday, according to AAA, up 19 cents from a year ago.

Still the current price is well below the record high average of $4.65 set in October, 2012.

Statewide, the average price of a gallon of gas on Saturday was $4.01.

Alaska was a fraction higher, followed by the highest in the nation, Hawaii, where a gallon of regular averaged $4.32 this week.

News of the impending tax hike produced mixed reactions Saturday ranging from resignation to anger.

“This to me is small, compared to what's really going on,” said Harvey Doss, a Santa Rosa loan processor who pulled into the gas station.

He expressed disapproval with larger issues that have affected the economy, such as increasing the money supply.

“For every action, there's an equal reaction.” he said. “It's a big game they're playing. It's starting to irritate the living crap out of me.”

“There's nothing much we can do,” said Maritza Mendoza, a Sonoma State University business major who commutes to Rohnert Park from her home in Healdsburg.

“As much as you want to cut back, you still have to drive for everyday things,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or clark.mason@pressdemocrat.com.

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