Plan would give taxpayers $400 to combat price hikes
A group of Assembly Democrats unveiled a proposal Thursday to provide $400 rebates for California taxpayers to combat the skyrocketing gas prices and other rising costs.
“Soaring gas prices are hitting Californians at the pump. We know our constituents are hurting right now,” Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Irvine, said during a press conference. “We know too many Californians are struggling to make ends meet right now. We are here to offer help.”
The proposed $400 per individual would be equivalent to a “one-year gas tax holiday” for most Californians, Assemblymember Petrie-Norris said.
The Democrats proposed the rebate — as opposed to a moratorium of the gas tax as Republicans have suggested — so as not to disrupt infrastructure projects the fuel tax funds. Money for the rebate would come from California’s budget surplus, the lawmakers said.
Additionally, the Democrats contended this rebate would help Californians as other costs, such as utilities and groceries, also rise.
According to a letter sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leadership Thursday, the proposed rebate would also be available for taxpayers who do not own or drive a car.
“They too have seen their living expenses increase due at least in part to the increased cost of gasoline,” the Democrats said. “California has been the global leader in combating climate change, and in order to remain consistent in our values, we should not deter people from utilizing public transportation and clean energy vehicles. Broadly offering this rebate ensures that we lift up all Californians during this difficult time.”
Assemblymember Petrie-Norris said the legislators have a goal of spring for getting the rebates to taxpayers.
Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, called the proposal “much more thoughtful” than a gas tax cut.
“A cut in the gas tax has no guarantee that that money will end up in the pockets of consumers,” Assemblymember Irwin said.
In his State of the State address earlier this year, Gov. Newsom vowed to “put money back in the pockets of Californians” with his own proposal to combat the rising fuel costs. Although the Democratic chief executive did not include specific details in his speech, a spokesperson later confirmed to the News-Press that the governor’s proposal would “take the form of a tax rebate.”
“We look forward to working with the legislature to bring direct relief to Californians who are suffering from high gas prices, a direct result of Putin’s war. We all agree we need to get money back into the hands of Californians,” Erin Mellon, communications director for Gov. Newsom, told the News-Press when asked about the Democrats’ proposal.
Assemblymember Petrie-Norris told reporters the group has had conversations with the Governor’s Office and is “looking forward to seeing their proposal and continuing to work with the governor, with leadership and with our colleagues to very quickly get money into the pockets of Californians.”
Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, said to expect more proposals to counter rising costs from legislators on either side of the statehouse. She called the proposal introduced by the group of Democrats Thursday a “starting conversation.”
“What we are trying to discuss in the California State Legislature is how to best help our California constituents with the rising costs, not just of gas but of food, clothing, childcare. Everything has gone up for our California constituents,” Sen. Limón told the News-Press. “In a time when California has some surplus dollars, we’re trying to identify what the best short-term and long-term investments are.”
“The proposal that has been presented today has generated a lot of discussions, and I expect the proposal will be part of multiple ideas that get presented, but it will not be the only idea,” Sen. Limón continued.
At the federal level, U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla unveiled his own rebate plan Thursday.
The California Democrat co-sponsored legislation that would require large oil companies importing or producing at least 300,000 barrels of oil per day to pay a per-barrel tax equal to 50% of the difference between the current price and pre-pandemic average price per barrel. Revenue from this tax would then be used to issue quarterly rebates to most taxpayers under a certain bracket.
“It is wholly unacceptable that while the price of oil is going down, prices at the pump remain at an all-time high,” Sen. Padilla said. “Big oil companies are taking advantage of world events and lining their pockets while Californians and working families across the country pay the price — we cannot allow them to continue to manipulate prices.”
As of Thursday, California’s average gas price was $5.79. In Santa Barbara County, the average was even higher at $5.80 for regular gas, $6.09 for premium and $6.21 for diesel, according to the American Auto Association.
Assemblymember Petrie-Norris chairs the Accountability and Administrative Review Committee and sits on the Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy Committee.
To see the Democrats unveil the rebate plan, see facebook.com/AssemblywomanCPN/videos/696473781376707.