In California, the state government is considering multiple options to provide relief for car owners who have to face the highest fuel prices in the nation, including handouts of up to $800 per person.
According to ABC News, Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) announced on Wednesday a new proposal to combat rising gas prices. In addition to giving out debit cards with as much as $400 for each vehicle, up to two vehicles per person, the proposal includes a tax break, free rides on public transit, and efforts to promote alternative methods of transportation.
In the midst of the ongoing energy crisis, California currently has the highest average prices in the nation for a gallon of gasoline, at $5.88, which is $2 higher than statewide gas prices one year ago, and over $1 higher than the national average. California also has the second-highest gas tax in the country, at 51 cents per gallon. However, despite some states rescinding their gas taxes to offset costs, Democrats in California have thus far refused to suspend the state’s gas tax.
Newsom outlined the details of his proposal, including how the $400 handouts would go to everyone who has a car that is registered in California, even if they are illegal aliens or own vehicles that do not run on gasoline. The proposal would allocate $750 million to the state’s transit and rail agencies to cover the costs of transit for up to 3 million people per day over the course of three months. Additionally, the bill would allocate $1.1 billion to halt scheduled inflationary increases on fuel and diesel taxes this summer, and $500 million would go to state projects that promote biking and walking as alternatives to driving.
“This package is also focused on protecting people from volatile gas prices, and advancing clean transportation,” Newsom said in a statement.
However, the proposal has faced criticism from even some on Newsom’s left. Laura Deehan, a spokeswoman for the radical environmentalist group Environment California, was critical of the proposal to give debit cards to all car owners for gas.
“Just giving out these rebates to anyone who has a car in the state,” Deehan said, “isn’t going to help us in the long run move away from the volatility that comes with our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Democrats in both the State Senate and State Assembly are currently working on their own versions of similar proposals to provide temporary relief for Californians, with statements from the leadership of both chambers suggesting that any negotiations with Newsom may take some time.