A group of 10 Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento proposed to Gov. Gavin Newsom to use a portion of the budget surplus to give a $400 rebate to every taxpayer in California, to help cover some of the high cost of gasoline and the general increase in the prices of the products and services.
“We ask that this proposal be included in the state budget and considered as soon as possible,” they said in a letter sent to Newsom and Democratic leaders in the state legislature.
Lawmakers expressed deep concern about rising gas prices and how it has impacted Californians.
“We are committed to providing quick relief.”
They explained that the proposed $400 rebate would cover the current gas tax of 51 cents per gallon for a full year, and 52 trips to the gas station for most vehicles.
“We believe that a rebate is a better approach than suspending the gas tax, because that would seriously affect the financing of major transportation projects and offers no guarantee that the oil companies will pass the savings on to consumers.”.
They point out in the letter that their proposal is for every taxpayer to receive this refund, including those who do not own or drive a car.
“They have also seen an increase in their living expenses due to the increase in the cost of gasoline.”
They argue that California has been a world leader in the fight against climate change and to be consistent with its values, people should not be discouraged from using public transportation and clean energy vehicles.
“By offering this rebate widely, we ensure that we help all Californians during this difficult time.”
They indicate in the letter that many Californians are feeling the financial pain when they go to fill up on gas, and are waiting for help from their leaders in California.
“It is vital that we respond quickly and decisively.”
The letter was also sent to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate Speaker Toni Atkins, Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Nancy Skinner and Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Phil Thing.
Contains proposal by Assemblymembers Cottie Petrie-Norris of Laguna Beach, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry of Winters, Rebecca Bauer Kahan of Orinda, Jesse Gabriel of Encino, Adam Gray of Merced, Jacki Irwin of Thousand Oaks, Evan Low of Campbell, Blanca Rubio of Baldwin Park, Sharon Quirk Silva of Fullerton, Carlos Villapudua of Stockton, and Independent Assemblyman Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley.
Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher of Yuba City said in a statement about the Democrats’ proposed rebate that it was about time they did something.
“Californians are hurting and it’s taking Democrats weeks to act.”
He said this measure should be fast-tracked to the governor’s desk, and go to working Californians who really feel the pain of high gas prices.
“Although this is the beginning, since the Republicans will work so that the gas tax is also suspended and stop the increases that are coming. With inflation at its highest point in 40 years and gas prices breaking records, $400 will go pretty fast”.
In late February, Governor Newsom proposed in his $286 billion budget for fiscal year 2022-23 to suspend the 5.6% gas tax that will take effect in July, in order to save drivers money.
Suspending said increase in the gasoline tax would mean losing revenues of more than $520 million.
The governor also proposes delaying the entry into force of the increases scheduled for 2023 and 2024.
“Because California is so strong and we are the fastest growing economy of any Western democracy for the last five years or more, our economic output is strong,” Newsom said in introducing his plan.
“As a result, our budgets are running extraordinary surpluses.”
The Democrats’ proposal to give $400 in aid to every taxpayer, regardless of income, was in response to ad pressure against vulnerable Democrats launched by Reform Californiaa political action committee, asking to suspend the state gas tax to save drivers $1.26 per gallon.
However, they said the average family with two cars pays more than $3,000 a year for gas and taxes in the state.
“That’s why we will continue to push those vulnerable Democrats until they cut these unfair and sky-high taxes.”
The final vote on whether to approve the $400 rebate for the high cost of gasoline is expected next week.