SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Anyone who pays taxes could soon get $400 dollars in their pocket.
Democrats unveiled their gas tax rebate plan Thursday, and people don’t have to own or lease a vehicle to qualify.
Overall, the lawmakers estimate it will cost $9 billion dollars from the state's surplus to send out these checks. Everyone, regardless of income, will qualify for the $400 rebate as long as they pay taxes.
“It will go far in helping with price increases not only at the pump but at the grocery store and on our utility bills," Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin said. "Californians are hurting and they need relief.”
Asm. Cottie Petrie Norris said that those on fixed income, like low-income retirees, veterans, and disabled Californians who receive government benefits and do not work, do qualify.
“That is certainly the goal and the way that we would craft the implementation of the proposal,” Petrie-Norris said.
Democrats said it’s equivalent to a gas tax holiday but better.
“To put that into context, for most vehicles, for most Californians, this $400 rebate is equivalent to a one-year gas tax holiday," Petrie-Norris said.
Democrats don’t want an actual suspension of the 51.1 cent gas tax that Californians pay per gallon because they said it would be up to oil producers and gas stations to lower the costs, and there’s no guarantee they will.
“We believe that this is a more efficient and effective way to get money in your pocket, not into the pockets of oil companies,” she said.
"If you look at study after study after study, it supports exactly what we're saying," Kiley said.
"If it's a tax, OK, so it's the price that you're paying on top of what the price already is, right? So taking that 50 cents, that tax away, will instantly reduce the price by 50 cents a gallon, period," Gallagher said.
Overall though, they’re happy Democrats are trying to give taxpayers back their money. They just want it to be immediate.
“If they're going to give a rebate, then do it now," Gallagher said. "You have the ability to do it. Don't wait till June. Don't wait till budget discussions. People need the relief now.”
Democratic lawmakers said to expect the money sometime in spring if it is approved. They said they're also looking forward to seeing Governor Gavin Newsom's gas tax rebate proposal he announced in his State of the State speech. Lawmakers said theirs is independent of his.