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New gas relief proposal aims to give $200 to Californians

New gas relief proposal aims to give $200 to Californians 03:22

Despite a projected surplus nearing $70 billion, Democrats in Sacramento continue to disagree on ways to relieve the ongoing burden of high gas prices on Californians.

"It's definitely more expensive," said driver Keshawna Wise, who cut costs by not eating as much and drinking less coffee. "It's my second time being here this week." 


On Thursday, state Democrats announced yet another massive budget surplus projected to be upwards of $68 billion, with some hoping to use the extra money for a new aid package aimed at helping individuals and families. Under the plan and regardless if they own a vehicle or not, individuals making less than $125,000 will receive $200 and couples making less than $250,000 a year will get $200 per dependent. 

"I'll tell you given the anticipated size of our surplus I think we can do more," said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris. 

The Irvine assemblywoman originally proposed a $400 rebate for all Californians in mid-March, but just a week after her proposal, Gov. Gavin Newsom submitted his plan which included $400 for every individual with registered vehicles. 

"Again if we can find a way to ensure that savings get passed along to California consumers — I'm all for it," said Petrie-Norris. "I don't care how we get there. I want to make sure we are putting money back into the pockets of Californians who are hurting right now."

Petrie Norris also said some of her Democratic colleagues are considering suspending the gas tax. 

"So if we were to suspend the gas tax it would be immediate relief to the tune of 51 cents a gallon — I've been advocating for this since January," said Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley. "I've given the legislature several opportunities now to vote for it. And yet the supermajority has refused to do so. And it was only today that you got some defections and some Democrats have said 'We are willing to support the idea.'"

Another option would be to lower taxes in the wake of this massive surplus, which is unlikely to happen.

"The complication is the source of the revenue," said professor of politics Jack Pitney. "The reason we are running such surpluses is that the rich are getting richer. The wealthiest Californians pay the vast majority of the personal income tax. That's where it's coming from."

At this point, there is no timeline as to when a deal could be reached.  

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