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California lawmakers propose $400 rebate to offset high gas prices

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KION) Californians complained — and lawmakers listened. A group of state Democrats is proposing a $400 rebate for every California taxpayer, meant to offset the high gas prices and inflation.

"That would be beautiful. I would love it. I can always use $400," said Livia, who lives in Salinas.

The rebate would go to all taxpayers, regardless of if they own a car or not.

"We now confront the challenge of inflation, the worst February in 40 years of rising costs," said Assemblymember Ken Cooley. "This will put money in the pockets of people, and they will turn around according to their priorities and spend it on what matters. And that means it's not just good for them, it is good for the whole California and American economy."

But some don't agree.

"I think the proposal is very unfair because they should give the rebate to the people who own the cars," said Barry of Salinas. "They're going to give them the benefit of us who have to pay."

The gas rebate comes as Republican lawmakers are pushing to suspend the $0.51 gas tax. But how much would that actually save?

The current average of a regular gallon of gas in California is $5.78, according to AAA. Removing the gas tax would make it $5.27. That means to fill up a 12-gallon tank, you would save about $6.12 without the tax.

"To put that into context for most vehicles, for most Californians, this $400 rebate is equivalent to a one-year gas tax holiday," said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris.

"A cut in the gas tax has no guarantee that that money will end up in the pockets of consumers," added Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin.

We spoke to local state Senator John Laird earlier this week, who was in favor of a similar rebate instead of the gas tax suspension.

"The gas suspension is such a small amount of money and it hurts schools and it hurts roads," said Laird. "We should be doing something that doesn't cut schools and roads and still puts more cash in people's pockets, and puts it for things that are broader than just the gas hikes. Because we still have people with rent problems, we have people with food insecurity. And we should be addressing all those things."

The total funding needed for the proposal, an estimated $9 billion, would come directly from the state's budget surplus. Lawmakers hope to have the rebate sent out by the Spring.

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Lisa Principi

Lisa Principi is a reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.


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