Despite the fact Californians already pay the most for gasoline on the continental U.S., the state increased its tax burden by 3.5 cents per gallon effective today. That means the state tax increases to 39.5 cents per gallon.

And, thanks to the increase, drivers in California have the highest gas tax (state and federal combined) in the nation at 72 cents per gallon.

In February, the California Board of Equalization voted to raise the excise tax rate largely to make up for a tax-revenue shortfall. But in what might be considered some legislative chicanery, citizens input was nullified.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the increase was approved by the five-member state Board of Equalization in February under a complicated "gas tax swap" that eliminated most sales taxes on fuel purchases in favor of a higher excise tax.

Sales tax revenues fund local government programs, while the state excise tax on gas funds highway and mass transit projects throughout the state.

But, there should have been a super-majority vote requiring passage from at least 67 percent.

In this instance, the Legislature gave the tax board the authority to raise the excise tax by a simple majority vote. If a tax had gone before voters as a special tax, it would have needed a two-thirds majority.

The average tax on a gallon of gas is 49 cents nationwide. New York has the second-highest with 68.9 cents, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

The national average price of gas is $3.50 today. Hawaii leads the U.S. with a $4.33 average and California today has an average statewide price at $3.95.

Let us know what you think... especially if you live in California!