Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed sending California drivers as much as $800 in an effort to provide relief amid skyrocketing gas prices.
The governor’s plan, unveiled two weeks after he teased relief in his State of the State address, would provide $400 per vehicle in tax refunds to Californians with a cap of two vehicles per person.
The refund would be issued in debit cards to registered vehicle owners.
Gov. Newsom’s plan would also unlock $750 million in incentive grants for transit and rail agencies to provide free rides for Californians for three months and $600 million to pause part of the sales tax rate on diesel for one year. Additionally, his plan called for $523 million to pause the inflationary adjustment to gas and diesel excise tax rates.
“We’re taking immediate action to get money directly into the pockets of Californians who are facing higher gas prices as a direct result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” Gov. Newsom said in a statement. “But this package is also focused on protecting people from volatile gas prices and advancing clean transportation — providing three months of free public transportation, fast-tracking electric vehicle incentives and charging stations and new funding for local biking and walking projects.”
On Wednesday, California’s average gas price climbed to $5.88, above the national average of $4.24. The average for regular gas in the Santa Barbara area, in comparison, was about $5.93, and for diesel, it was $6.20.
Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, previously told the News-Press to expect more proposals to counter rising costs from legislators on either side of the statehouse.
“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 said. “In a time when California has some surplus dollars, we’re trying to identify what the best short-term and long-term investments are.”
Gov. Newsom said he would work with the legislature on details of his proposal in the “coming days.”
“Senate Republicans called for relief for California drivers, and we got it,” said Republican Senate Leader Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita. “But they also need relief NOW, not in July. Newsom should take this further and immediately suspend the full state gas tax.”