Dan Walters: We pay through the nose to live in California

While decrying economic inequality is not a new theme for California politicians, they’ve only occasionally cited high living costs as a factor.

In fact, those costs are the major reason we have the nation’s highest level of poverty, as measured by the Census Bureau, and they are not confined to housing.

Californians’ personal incomes, while not the nation’s highest, average above the nation as a whole. But Californians’ incomes don’t stretch as far as those in most other states.

Take gasoline, a necessity of modern life. The American Automobile Association’s latest survey pegs the national average at $2.24 per gallon with Missouri having the cheapest gas at $1.82 and California the most expensive at $3.32.

That $1.06 gap between California and the average translates into about $15 billion per year in additional costs for motorists, or about $400 for driving 10,000 miles a year.

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