On Thursday, the city of Chicago announced that it would be spending over $12 million in handouts for its citizens in order to offset the rising costs of gas.
The New York Post reports that Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D-Ill.) made the announcement at a press conference, revealing that the city government would spend up to $12.5 million to hand out 50,000 gas cards worth $150 each. The recipients of the cards will be decided via a citywide lottery. Additionally, another 100,000 transit cards, worth $50 each, will be handed out to residents as a temporary alternative to driving.
Both cards will primarily be given to low-income residents, who can start applying for them on April 27th. Applicants must be residents of the city of Chicago, at least 18 years old, must have a valid sticker on their vehicles, and must have a household income either at or below 140 percent of the city’s area median income.
“People have to be able to get to work, school, places of worship, medical offices, grocery stores,” said Lightfoot. “The goal of this program is to help make those moves easier.”
“I know from talking to many residents that they are feeling the strain,” she continued. “There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. And many are unable to fill their tanks as much as they normally would because their dollars just don’t stretch that far. So, my administration’s been working through a variety of options to see how we can provide the greatest relief to as many residents as we can.”
A similar policy is being considered in the state of California, where Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) proposed handouts of up to $800 for every car owner in the state to spend on gas.
The current national average price for a gallon of gasoline, according to the American Automobile Association, is $4.225. It was previously $3.610 last month, and was just $2.874 one year ago. In Chicago, the average is even higher at $4.843.
Gas prices have been rising steadily since Joe Biden first started cutting back on domestic energy production upon taking office; among other executive actions he took early in office, Biden canceled the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, and also halted all federal oil and gas leases. The ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia has only further exacerbated the international energy market, resulting in prices rising even higher.