California residents may get up to $800 to pay for fuel


California Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing a stipend of up to $800 as part of an $11 billion relief package designed to help state residents offset high gas prices. The stipend would come in the form of debit cards, and the proposal does not appear to limit how the money can be spent — at least for now — even if its aim is to help residents pay for fuel. 

For people who don’t have cars, Newsom wants the state to pay for their bus or train fare for three months. His proposal would give $750 million to transit and rail agencies, which Newsom said would be enough to give free rides to 3 million people per day. About $1.1 billion would pay to pause scheduled inflationary increases for diesel and fuel taxes this summer, and another $500 million would pay for projects that promote biking and walking.

Newsom’s office says the payouts will be tied to vehicle registrations, not tax records, meaning it won’t leave out those on Social Security Disability or in other low-income situations. 



At least a dozen states have proposed giving rebate checks of several hundred dollars directly to taxpayers, among them California, Kansas and Minnesota. If Newsom’s proposal is approved, each car owner in California would receive a  $400 debit card per vehicle, up to a maximum of two vehicles, for a potential total of $800 per owner. If the measure passes the California state assembly, payments could come as soon as July. 

Gas prices have soared in recent weeks, the result of pandemic-induced inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. State governments across the country have been debating what to do about it, with the most popular choices being slashing fuel taxes or offering rebates to taxpayers. Last week, the governors of Maryland and Georgia signed laws temporarily suspending their state’s gas taxes.

The California deal also includes a $600 million provision that would temporarily reduce diesel fuel taxes. 

This article includes reporting by the Associated Press. 

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