Californians could get some extra money from Sacramento to help cope with sky-high gasoline prices and the impacts of inflation.
Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Irvine, on Thursday announced a proposal for a $400 gas rebate alongside a group of lawmakers, most of them Democrats.
The stimulus-like rebate would go to all state taxpayers — not just drivers — because “all Californians have seen an increase in living expenses,” a news release announcing the measure said.
“Consistent with the state’s values as the global leader in combating climate change, this will ensure that the rebate includes taxpayers who use public transit, active transportation options, and zero-emission vehicles,” the release said. “By distributing it to every filer, this is the proven, most efficient way to get money out quickly for a stimulus.”
Gas prices have gone up significantly amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. California’s average gas price was $5.79 per gallon on Thursday — far higher than the national average of $4.29 per gallon.
At a Thursday press conference, Assembly members emphasized the rebate option is a good one because it allows residents to have more flexibility in how they use the money. They said they’d like to see the rebate move forward this spring.
“I just want Californians to know that we hear you,” said Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-Orinda. “We see the pain you’re feeling at the pump, how inflation is affecting you every day when you do your grocery shopping and feed your family. And so what we as the Assembly Democrats want to do is get this money, this $400 gas rebate into your pockets, not into pockets of oil companies.”
Republicans support rebate, continue tax cut push
Assemblymembers’ rebate plan is consistent with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s suggestion “to put money back in the pockets of Californians to address rising gas prices” from his State of the State address on March 8.
Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, have also said they would like use General Fund money to help motorists, rather than a tax cut or holiday.
Petrie-Norris said the Assembly members have been in conversation with Newsom’s office, but she didn’t indicate whether the rebate has his support.
Since gas prices have surged, Republicans have been pushing Assembly Bill 1638 from Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, which would enact a six-month gas tax holiday.
California drivers pay about 51 cents per gallon in gas excise tax — money that funds road and infrastructure improvements.
But Democrats on Monday shut down Kiley’s attempt to push for a rule suspension that would have allowed a vote on his gas tax holiday bill.
Republican leaders didn’t oppose the gas rebate plan, but they also continued to push gas tax cuts, as well.
“It’s about time,” Republican Assembly Leader James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, said on Thursday. “Californians are hurting and it’s taken Democrats weeks to act. This bill should be fast-tracked to the governor’s desk and targeted to working Californians who actually feel the pain at the pump.”
“While this is a start, Republicans will still work to suspend the gas tax and stop the upcoming increase,” Gallagher added. “With inflation at a 40-year high and gas prices breaking records, $400 will go pretty fast.”
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