Business · California

Facing highest-ever gas prices, Newsom wants to spend surplus to help ease pain at pump

While facing few serious contenders ahead of his 2022 election, Gov. Gavin Newsom is eyeing another round of checks to Californians as the state’s surplus sits above legal limits.

This time, however, it’s not tailored to the state’s pandemic-shuttered economy, but rather toward inflationary pressures and the soaring cost of gasoline.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

During his annual State of the State address, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he will soon propose legislation to provide Californians relief from rising gas prices.

The state of California has the highest gas prices in the country, and Newsom previously proposed suspending a gas tax increase scheduled for July. On Tuesday night, Newsom said, “it’s clear we have to go farther” than that.

“That’s why, working with legislative leadership, I’ll be submitting a proposal to put money back in the pockets of Californians to address rising gas prices,” he said.

That quote is quite literally the extent of what is known about the plan at this time. It is unclear when the proposal would be put forth, how many Californians would be eligible for relief, and how much money residents would receive.

Republican lawmakers have adamantly demanded more than relief payments to some Californians to counteract gas prices, instead pressing California to suspend the entirety of its highest-in-the-nation gas tax until prices return to more palatable levels.

Newsom’s only other proposal prior to his State of the State address was to halt a planned increase in the fuel tax, as prescribed in 2017’s gas tax increase, Senate Bill 1.

That idea was heavily opposed by California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a critical player to passing such a measure, rendering the proposal largely dead-on-arrival.

Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.