Leaders of lawmakers who want to send cash to low-income residents, including those who don’t own cars, aren’t even flirting.
The governor promised in his speech in early March that he would take “immediate action” to provide relief. By mid-June, gas topped $ 6 per gallon – the highest in the nation – and Californians are still waiting.
“We’re here after months and nothing, and I’m confused and frustrated that we didn’t get a single dollar in the same pocket,” said Assembly member Coty Petrie Norris (D-Laguna Beach). Orange County’s permanent battlefield and part of a group of moderate Democrats who offered an alternative this spring. “I think Californians are angered by the perception that they are inactive and that they are indifferent.”
The Sacramento controversy cuts to broad socioeconomic divisions – and contradictions – of the high-cost state known for its powerhouse economy and progressive politics. The uncontrolled economic success of California’s wealthiest residents has led to record state budget surpluses, with sharply rising prices plaguing millions.
California’s ability to narrow that gap could shape interim elections in times of growing economic anxiety. This may affect Newsom’s political prospects as a Democratic governor, but there is hope for re-election, as he looks to boost other Democrats on the ballot while working to increase his profile as a national Democratic leader.
Newsom, which has called for a ban on the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035, now wants to offer car owners a financial solution – double cash for people who have two. (The governor has suggested freeing the luxury vehicles out of aid, but not establishing the maximum value.)
The governor’s plan would return $ 11.5 billion to California, while the legislature would send a total of $ 8 billion. Newsom has argued that limiting compensation to those earning less than $ 125,000 a year would put some middle-class residents at risk, as Democratic lawmakers wanted to do. But legislative leaders are adamant that the solution should be aimed at Californians who need more help.
“We’re not going to give Elon Musk or anyone $ 400,” said the Democratic staffer, speaking in the wake of the fragility of the talks. “It’s never going to happen under this Democratic legislature.”
Lawmakers want to link aid to individuals, an additional relief for dependents – $ 400 for a family of two, $ 1,000 for a family of five. Newsome has never been bogged down by its public stance that $ 400 per vehicle should be related to car ownership.
Another sticking point is how to get money. Newsome argues that going through the Department of Motor Vehicles, another overworked state agency, is much faster than relying on the legislative option, which has been receiving exciting checks since last year’s Budget Bonanza.
In other words: the debate over the fastest way to pay people has delayed a payment agreement for people.
“It’s size, scope and speed. We’re focused on those three things,” said Newsom spokesman Anthony York. “If this was done 100 days ago, we would be closer to 100 days, but the Legislature doesn’t want to do this outside the budget process.”
Budget negotiations always take months. But Newsome has “probably jumped the gun” by announcing that help is coming in March, said Chris Hone, executive director of the Progressive California Budget and Policy Center.
“Checks are not going to be deducted over the next three weeks after that announcement, but it certainly created the expectation of something faster,” Hoyen said. “He announced a plan that didn’t have much details, didn’t have enough outlines. He didn’t review it with the legislature.”
But the lack of compromise is so high that both sides have been digging for months. Newsom proposed a solution in his State of the State speech in early March, after a helper introduced a connection to cars. Soon after, the lawmakers gave their counterpart.
“I’m confident that we’ll get to the deal sooner,” Newsome told reporters a month ago.
On Monday, Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said he expects relief checks to begin “before October,” meaning money and general election ballots can drop in voters’ mailboxes at the same time.
As the silence continues, Republicans – with less power in the Democratic-supermajority statehouse – have sought to capitalize on the controversy, repeatedly trying to force votes to suspend the state’s gas tax.
Democratic lawmakers rejected Newsom’s proposal to delay the proposed 3-cent increase, effective July 1. They argue that restricting gas tax revenues will cause transportation projects to starve and ruin construction jobs without the hope that oil companies will pass on savings. For customers. Progressive Silicon Valley Representative. Ro Khanna Echoing that argument this week, he warned that focusing on tax evasion would “feed the right-wing narrative that the problem is government, not Big Oil.”
Many democrats In Sacramento Instead they focus on reviewing the oil company’s profits. He amended the GOP gas tax suspension bill so it could impose a new windfall tax on oil companies. Rendon and other Democrats this week urged state officials to investigate why prices have soared.
But some Democrats continue to press for immediate tax relief, arguing that the final budget deal should include a gas tax holiday. The debate took another turn this week when President Joe Biden called for the suspension of federal gas taxes and urged states to comply. Some legislative Democrats hailed Biden, and Republicans jumped on Democratic daylight.
“The President and the US Secretary of the Treasury Look at the Benefits. Why Are Sacramento Democrats Preventing Immediate Relief? Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R-Simi Valley) said in a statement.
The governor’s focus on cars has particularly stunned some viewers because it is working against the state’s aggressive climate change goals.
“Money for families doesn’t have to come at the expense of protecting the planet,” Democratic Assemblyman Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles) tweeted last week.
Melissa Romero, senior legislative manager for the California Environmental Voters, said the breakup of car ownership would help Californians fight and fit the broader climate goals of the state.
“There is a real opportunity here to make sure we are targeting and focusing on solutions for the people who need it most, and not increase the state’s reliance on polluting fossil fuels and reward the oil industry while they look at the record profit,” Romero said.
The desire for compensation and a lack of immediate state response have helped Republicans steal politics during the campaign season, which has led to many competing California races and widespread fears about inflation. Republican lawmakers recently held a rally in the Capitol to mark 100 days after Newsome promised help.
“As a Californian, we are disappointed that everybody faces the consequences of rising costs,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong (Bakersfield), the top Republican budget official in the House. “It’s very disappointing and odd for me that the Democrats control every aspect of state government, so they can’t get into some kind of agreement.”
Republicans are not the only ones to blame for what happened. A group of moderate Democrats, led by Petri-Norris, pioneered legislative leaders by introducing their own proposal in March, arguing that the budget process should not wait to play. An increasing number of Democrats are bucking the leadership by suspending state gas taxes, now 51 cents per gallon, or delaying the planned increase, effectively tying themselves with Republicans or Newsom.
“California gas prices could pose a threat to the House majority. I think it has major ramifications,” Petri-Norris said in an interview.
Several Democrats pushing back on gas taxes are facing competitive elections. Among them are frontline representatives. Josh Harder And Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), who is vying for newly drawn House seats in the state’s Central Valley, and Assemblyman Rudy Salas from Bakersfield, are challenging the GOP Rep. David Valadao And called on Newsom and the Legislature this week to stop the gas tax hike.
“People are living their daily lives and they are not spending every minute in and out of the Sacramento policy narrative, but voters want us to take action,” Gray said. “When people go to the polls it is on their minds and that’s why I will continue to go out there and advocate for action.”