A Ventura County assemblywoman will lead a new legislative committee to investigate why Californians are paying higher gas prices and whether the state can do anything about it.
Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, said the new Select Committee on Gasoline Supply and Pricing will seek to "explain exactly why Californians are paying 25% more for gas compared to the national average."
"I'm very concerned every time I drive by the gas station and I see these extremely high prices," she said. "It really affects people that are on a fixed budget the most. It is very difficult to adjust these high prices."
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On Thursday, the average price of regular unleaded gas was $6.31 in Ventura County and $6.29 statewide, according to the AAA. That's up roughly $2 from a year ago and higher than the national average of $4.86.
Irwin said not to expect a quick fix.
"We are not going to be looking at short-term solutions," she told The Star in an interview Wednesday.
More immediately, Californians may get some relief from the high cost of gasoline and the overall higher cost of living through an inflation relief package included in the state budget the Legislature approved Wednesday night.
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The rebate program, which provides up to $1,050 to California families, will put money directly into the pockets of consumers - something that couldn't be guaranteed by pausing the gas tax, Irwin said.
Irwin is scheduled to convene the first meeting of the new committee at the state Capitol around 11 a.m. Thursday. Committee members plan to hear about previous research on gasoline pricing in California and develop a work plan before the Legislature adjourns for summer recess.
Irwin said committee members plan to "dig deep into the data and see where it takes us" when the Legislature is back in session at the end of August.
Cheri Carlson covers the environment for the Ventura County Star. Reach her at email@example.com or 805-437-0260.
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Committee investigating California's high gas prices to meet Thursday