Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday that he is proposing that every registered car owner in the state be sent a $400 gas card to soften the blow of surging fuel prices.
The $11 billion package would provide up to two cards to owners of more than one registered vehicle and would provide three months of free public transit to residents who do not own a car.
Newsom echoed recent statements made by the Biden administration by blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for high prices at the pump. He said that he is proposing putting “money directly in the pockets of Californians” to ease the impact of the prices that he claimed are a “direct result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”
As with similar claims made by Joe Biden, Newsom overlooks the fact that gas prices had been steadily rising for a full year before the invasion of Ukraine.
The California legislature must approve of the rebate proposal as an allocation in the state budget. Upon approval, the gas cards could be mailed out to residents beginning in July. Republicans have blasted the Newsom proposal because of the substantial delay involved. Many have called for the rebate in addition to an immediate suspension of the 51 cents per gallon state gas tax as well.
The state DMV indicates that there are over 35.8 million registered personal vehicles in California. The rebate cards would also go to registered owners of electric vehicles and persons with car lease agreements.
GasBuddy CEO Patrick De Haan wrote that the gas card plan will only serve to drive gas prices and overall inflation to even higher levels. He tweeted on Thursday that Newsom’s plan “will end badly” because it will boost demand for gas during already high prices and refinery production challenges. He added that politicians should “resist the urge” to interfere with natural market processes.
The average price of a gallon of gas as reported by AAA in California on Saturday was $5.91, while the national average stood at $4.24.