SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A week after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a gas tax rebate is in the works, California Democratic lawmakers unveiled their plan to help those struggling with the high gas prices.

What You Need To Know

  • Assembly Democrats are proposing spending $9 billion from the state’s budget surplus to send a $400 rebate to every California taxpayer

  • The proposal is separate from the gas tax rebate Gov. Gavin Newsom mentioned in his State of the State address

  • Republicans in the state assembly continue pushing for a gas tax suspension

  • The state’s gas tax is 51-cents per gallon

The state’s budget surplus would fund the $9 billion proposal, explained Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach. The Orange County lawmaker said under the proposal, state filers would receive a $400 rebate, regardless of their income level.

“Our goal is to be able to do this in the spring and all the folks here are going to be pushing really hard to make that happen,” Petrie-Norris said.

Petrie-Norris explained they came up with that figure because that is approximately the same amount of money Californians would save if they suspended the gas tax for a year.

“We, the Assembly Democrats, want to do is put this money, this $400 gas rebate into your pockets. Not into the pockets of oil companies, but straight to you as California taxpayers,” added Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Khan, D-Walnut Creek.

The $400 rebate is one of several ideas Assembly member Jesse Gabriel from the San Fernando Valley said is in the works to help families who are struggling to make ends meet.

“This proposal, while it’s really important and certainly people are feeling the pain at the pump, it’s not the only thing that we’re going to be able to do. There’s a much broader conversation about how do we use our surplus to meet the needs of everyone across the state of California,” Gabriel said.

Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, thinks the $400 rebate is a good start, but believes they could do more to provide relief for families affected by the record-breaking gas prices.

“We need to do a lot more for California consumers in these high-cost times. And that’s why we are saying, let’s do a rebate and suspend the gas tax,” he adds.

The GOP’s push to suspend the gas tax failed earlier this week, but Assemblyman Gallagher shared their plan to reintroduce the idea next week and hope this time they’ll have the support from the supermajority.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who introduced the bill to repeal the gas tax, said he welcomes the idea of giving Californians $400, but does not think it is enough to help those who are currently hurting.

“It does nothing to affect the pain people are feeling every time they go to the station, which is making it harder and harder to get by,” said Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin.

Kiley notes his bill, AB 1638, would suspend the 51-cent gas tax for six months.

“The bill specifies that there will be no loss of road funding — that all of that will be back filled out of the general fund, which again we supposedly have this massive surplus. We could easily do that,” Kiley explains.  

However, Democrats like Gabriel fear suspending the gas tax will not benefit consumers directly and emphasized the rebate guarantees every taxpayer gets some money in their pockets.

“Even if you suspend the gas tax, your local gas station can just raise the price because they already know you’re willing to pay that price and so in that case, the money is just going into the pockets of oil companies and to foreign dictators,” Gabriel said.

While both parties have different approaches to addressing the staggering prices at the pump, they both said they are ready to work with Gov. Newsom to provide immediate relief.

Petrie-Norris said she wants to move forward with her proposal through early budget action and not wait until the legislature and governor finalize the budget in late June.

Governor Newsom has provided no details on his proposal since teasing a gas tax rebate during his State of the State address.