(CALMATTERS) – One thing California elected officials agree on: The state should give money back to its residents.
The hard part: reaching a consensus on how much money the state should return — and to whom.
This week, Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to unveil his proposal for providing financial relief to Californians staggering under soaring gas prices and skyrocketing inflation — at least the fourth such idea to emerge from the state Capitol in the last few weeks as lawmakers gear up for the 2022 election and debate how to handle California’s massive budget surplus.
“We are working on a proposal that helps Californians with rising gas prices and provides funding to public transit so they can provide direct relief for riders.”Newsom spokesperson Erin Mellon told the Los Angeles Times
It’s unclear how ardently Newsom plans to continue advancing his earlier idea of suspending a July increase to California’s gas excise tax.
Regardless, his plan will have to compete with another, introduced Friday by the Democratic leaders of the state Assembly and Senate, that would send $200 payments to California taxpayers and dependents in households earning less than $250,000.
- Around 90% of taxpayers would receive a check, costing the state about $6.8 billion, according to estimates from budget advisers to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon of Lakewood and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego. Undocumented immigrants and low-income Californians who don’t file taxes would also be eligible.
- By including an income cap, that proposal differs significantly from one introduced last week by another group of Democrats, who want to send every California taxpayer $400 at a cost of about $9 billion.
- Republican lawmakers, who last week saw Democrats shoot down their plan to suspend California’s gas excise tax, appear frustrated by the pileup of proposals. “This shouldn’t be difficult. Just let people keep more of their money,” said Assembly GOP Leader James Gallagher of Yuba City. “Show us a bill to provide tax relief, with no tricks or gimmicks, and let’s vote on it ASAP. And let’s also suspend the gas tax.”
- Meanwhile, more than 500 workers at a Chevron oil refinery in Richmond are poised to go on strike starting today — a move that could push gas prices even higher.