SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Capital region resident Lorena Jordan has been going gas shopping lately.
“I find myself going around looking at the prices looking for where I can get the best deal,” she says.READ MORE: Getting Answers: What Do Increased Releases From Folsom Dam Mean For Region's Water Levels?
But now she’s having trouble finding any sort of relief.
“You turn around and it’s up….up. I don’t know when it’s going to end,” Jordan said. “I don’t know when it’s going to end. We’re confined. We’re just kind of being kept prisoners in our own little spaces because we can’t afford to do anything.”
In the state government, a lack of forward progress has meant frustration on both sides of the aisle. California Republicans are advocating for a suspension of the state’s gas tax while Democrats hope that rebates can be a way forward. With budget discussions ongoing in the state capitol, two proposals are up for debate.
Governor Newsom’s plan involves $400 rebates tied to registered vehicles, per vehicle, up to a total of $800 with no earnings cap. There is also $750 million earmarked for free travel on public transit in major cities for three months.
The California Legislature’s proposal is a similar rebate for $200 tied to individuals with another $200 per dependent and a cap of households of $250,000 or more. Both are hopeful for a rollout in the fall if they make it through budget discussion.
“We want to get relief to as many Californians as possible as fast as possible,” says HD Palmer, deputy director of the California Department of Finance. “The governor’s ready to sit down and have those discussions and get this thing negotiated, agreed to and put to bed as fast as possible.”
California Senator Brian Dahle, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, believes the Gas Tax suspension should be revisited as, he argues, it provides immediate help.READ MORE: 'This Isn't Going To Hold Us Back': Drag Event In Woodland Stopped Over Alleged Threats Of Violence
“Right now, Californians need relief this would instantly relieve them of 51 cents a gallon,” Dahle says, referring to the amount the tax tacks onto the price of gasoline. “That would not only drop the gas but the cost of food as well. It’s not something we have to wait until September to do.”
Sen. Dahle touts the measure as temporary, stating that the tax revenue goes toward road and bridge infrastructure that the state very much needs.
“As fuel comes down and then supply comes up, we would then put the tax back on,” he said. “We need the infrastructure no doubt. We need to build our roads and bridges and that’s where our tax goes.”
But Palmer argues the governor’s position that a state gas tax suspension may have unintended consequences that result in consumers never actually seeing the discount.
“Somewhere in the process above where the gas gets to the pump may take advantage of the price breaks and then consumer, you or I when we fill up our tanks don’t see any relief at all.,” Palmer explains. “We want to get relief to as many Californians as possible as fast as possible.
In Washington D.C., U.S. House Representative Josh Harder (D-CA10) is in favor of exploring a suspension of gas taxes at the state and federal level as well as investigating price gouging by major oil and gas producers.
“That’s something we’re building for we don’t quite have the votes for that,” Harder mentions. “And so what we can do in the meantime is actually allow cheaper forms of gasoline like 15 percent ethanol so we’re at least lowering those costs.”
The ethanol gasoline tax suspension is part of a series of U.S. House Resolutions entitled the “Low Food and Fuel Costs Act”, which will be brought to the House Floor on Thursday. Within the bill are several measures to try and help lower gas cost but also address the broader issue of inflation. Rep. Harder is sponsoring HR7764, which allocates $750 million help farmers with input costs like fertilizer.MORE NEWS: California Lawmakers Demand Accountability After Personal Info Of Concealed Weapons Holders Leaked
“This matters because it should be considered an emergency. People are paying seven dollars a gallon at the pump,” he said.