The California Democrats unveiled a new proposal that would send a $ 400 discount to all state taxpayers to help offset the financial pain of rising gasoline prices.
The plan comes amid mounting pressure on California lawmakers to address skyrocketing prices at the pump, a week after gasoline costs hit another record high. The money would go to all California taxpayers, not just motorists.
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“This proposed $ 400 rebate would cover the current gas tax of 51 cents per gallon for a full year, 52 pump trips for most vehicles,” lawmakers wrote in a letter to the governor. Gavin Newsom. “In particular, we believe that a discount is a better approach than the suspension of the gas tax, which would have a serious impact on financing for major transportation projects and offers no guarantee that oil companies will pass the savings on to consumers.”
Prices for a regular gallon of gas hit $ 4.28 nationwide on Thursday, according to AAA, up from $ 2.87 a year ago. But California, as is usually the case, saw the highest prices in the country, with a gallon of gas reaching $ 5.78. In some parts of the state, prices are even higher: Mono County reported an average price of $ 6.50 per gallon.
During a press conference on Thursday, Assembly members said the discount is a better option than temporarily suspending the gas tax of 51 cents per gallon because it gives recipients more leeway in how they use the money. They suggested they want the money to come out as soon as spring.
The proposal was presented by 10 Democrats: Assembly members Cottie Petrie-Norris, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Jesse Gabriel, Adam Gray, Jacqui Irwin, Evan Low, Blanca Rubio, Sharon Quirk-Silva and Carlos Villapudua – and an independent, member of the Chad Mayes Assembly.
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Newsom, a Democrat, previously expressed support for easing the pain of rising gas prices by expecting to implement a 5.6% tax hike scheduled to take effect on July 1. But an analysis by LAO found it would only save drivers about 3 cents per gallon. Newsom’s office also launched the possibility of a discount that could go to residents with California-registered cars.
California Republicans tabled a bill in January that immediately suspends the gas tax in response to rising prices and fills projects from the state’s $ 45 billion surplus, but the proposal failed to get enough votes on Monday.
Lawmakers have said they are open to discounts in the future, but only in addition to a gas tax exemption.
A Wall Street analyst estimated that rising fuel prices could cost the average American family $ 2,000 more per year.
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The skyrocketing gas prices have their roots in the faster-than-expected economic recovery from the pandemic, which triggered the hottest inflation in decades amid strong consumer demand, an influx of government stimulus and disruptions in the global supply chain.
But in recent weeks, the war between Ukraine and Russia has driven global prices even higher as it prevents the world from accessing energy supplies. Although oil prices fell below $ 100 a barrel on Monday during talks between the two nations, gas prices remained high.