Last Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a proposed $11 billion relief package amid rising gas prices across the state.
As part of the new relief package, if it’s approved, registered vehicle owners in California would receive $400 per vehicle, which would total out to be approximately $9 billion in direct payments.
Newsom said in his announcement that this was an effort to “get money directly into the pockets of Californians” and said that rising gas prices were “a direct result of (Vladimir) Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Prices in gas have shot up following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. The average price for regular gas in Los Angeles County last year was just $3.95, last month it was $4.88, and the average this past weekend was $6.04.
“But this package is also focused on protecting people from volatile gas prices, and advancing clean transportation,” said Newsom, “providing three months of free public transportation, fast-tracking electric vehicle incentives and charging stations, and new funding for local biking and walking projects.”
Some residents of Santa Clarita are open to the idea of a $400 rebate, but still worry that it may not be enough if prices continue to rise at this rate.
Local resident Jan Gallegos called the rising prices “just awful” and said that while $400 might help her a little bit, she worries about others.
“It’ll help me because I don’t drive very often, but for other people they’ll probably blow through it in a couple days,” said Gallegos. “But any little bit helps. Even if it’s not a lot, it’ll help.”
Another resident from Canyon Country, Jack Gratrix, said that he appreciates the “free money” but still doesn’t trust who’s giving it to him.
“I only drive one car, so, I hardly go anywhere. It may help somebody else more than it’ll help me,” said Gratix. “They want my vote, that’s all they care about. They’re doing it because they want the vote.”
In addition to relief payouts and other legislation, government officials are also considering other options to lower the price of gas, such as tapping into the national oil reserves.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced the release of about 180 billion barrels of oil out of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which would make it the largest tap of the reserve in its history. Biden stated on Thursday the U.S. had banned the import of Russian oil.
“But as I said at the time, it’s going to come with a cost,” said Biden. “As Russian oil comes off the global market, supply of oil drops and prices are rising. Now Putin’s price hike is hitting Americans at the pump, which brings me to the first part of my plan: to immediately increase the supply of oil.”
Another proposed solution is to remove the California gas tax, a proposition that’s been gaining traction across the state with Republican lawmakers and has even resulted in a proposed bill in the state Assembly that would remove the tax.
The bill ultimately did not pass in its original form, prompting criticism from Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R- Santa Clarita, who recently released a statement saying, “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.”