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Rising gas price, tax hike could mean $5 a gallon

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POSTED February 25, 2013 11:53 p.m.

Gas prices are heading toward $5 a gallon territory.

First, a switch from winter blend to summer blend designed to recude air pollution in California is expected to send gas prices even higher than the 50 plus cents they have climbed per gallon during the past 33 days.

And today the state Board of Equalization is expected to approve a 3.5 cent per gallon excise tax.

All of that is creating a lot of pain at the pump for Manteca, Ripon, and Lathrop residents like Leonora Romero.

Romero doesn’t have the option not to drive.

Twice-a-week she has to fill up her car in order to get back-and-forth to work – something that wasn’t much of an issue a month ago.

But with gas prices once again rising, Romero said she’s fed up with the up-and-down nature of the cycle and wishes that there was something that she could do in order to keep things steady and stable and just a little bit more affordable.

“The prices aren’t okay,” she said. “I have to go to work every day, and they keep going up. There isn’t much that you can do, but I don’t like it.”

Prices at the pump have progressively been climbing over the last five weeks, and some industry analysts predict that Californians could be paying as much as $5-a-gallon by the time the peak summer season gets underway. It is something that at one-time seemed farfetched but looks like a reality with the $.50-a-gallon jump that drivers have recently experienced.

According to GasBuddy.com, Americans are paying, on average, $3.72-a-gallon while those in The Golden State are being forced to pony up $4.22-a-gallon to keep their cars on the road.

The trend was something that would normally have bothered Mike Smith, but on Monday he was given his own take-home work vehicle and a company gas card that took care of all of his out-of-pocket commuting concerns.

“I just got a company vehicle today, and I just figured out how to work this new gas card,” he said with a smile. “I was driving my Mom’s Ford Focus before, and it wasn’t too bad on the gas. Now I don’t have to worry about it at all.”

Not everybody is as lucky as Smith.

Hector Reiana says that he’s definitely noticed the increase in price and cringes when he thinks about what he’s going to be putting out in just a few months.

With a Bay Area job, Reiana says that he’s likely going to start back up carpooling with a friend – but since they both work in the construction trade a pickup truck is almost a necessity for transporting the tools needed to get to the jobsite.

“If I worked in an office or something and three or four of us could ride together in a Honda, life would be great,” he said. “At least this way I’m not shelling out for gas every day. But it’s still pretty pricey. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it – that’s the worst part.”

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