Roughly a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his plan to provide an $11 billion relief package for Californians regarding higher gas prices, Democratic legislators in Sacramento denied a Republican attempt to suspend the gas tax in the state.
In a statement distributed on Thursday, Assembly Republicans stated that their Democratic colleagues had once again stricken down the plan to suspend the gas tax, which currently taxes each gallon of gas at approximately 50 cents per gallon.
“Hard-working Californians need relief now,” said Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R- Santa Clarita, in a statement released via social media. “We must suspend the gas tax immediately to ease the pain at the pump. Other states have suspended their gas taxes and prices dropped within hours. Californians deserve the same immediate relief.”
However, Democrats said they were turning to the plan released by Newsom on Wednesday that said registered vehicle owners in California will become eligible for at least $400 per vehicle, totaling $9 billion in direct payments to millions of Californians.
Additionally, the proposed plan would provide $2 billion in relief for free public transportation for three months, pausing a portion of the sales tax rate on diesel fuel and suspending the inflationary adjustment on gas and diesel excise taxes.
“We’re taking immediate action to get money directly into the pockets of Californians who are facing higher gas prices as a direct result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” Newsom said via a statement distributed on Wednesday. “But this package is also focused on protecting people from volatile gas prices, and advancing clean transportation – providing three months of free public transportation, fast-tracking electric vehicle incentives and charging stations, and new funding for local biking and walking projects.”
While acknowledging Newsom’s plan on Twitter on Thursday, state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said that the governor could do more.
“Today the average price for a regular gallon of gas in the state is $5.88. (It’s) $6.03 in L.A. County,” Wilk said. “A full suspension of the gas tax would provide relief now.”
According to Newsom’s office, the payments will be available as soon as midsummer and take the form of $400 debit cards for registered vehicle owners with individuals being eligible to receive up to two payments.
“The Newsom administration will meet with the Legislature to negotiate the details of the proposal in the coming days,” the press release read. “Once approved through the Legislature, the first payments could begin as soon as July.”