California ‘The State Everyone Can’t Wait to Leave Behind,’ Kevin Kiley Tells CPAC Audience

Republican congressional candidate Kevin Kiley used the national conservative stage Saturday to forcefully denounce Gov. Gavin Newsom and paint California as a place where people “walk down streets that double as restrooms and injection sites.” Kiley spoke Saturday at the CPAC convention in Dallas, a gathering that included some of the conservative movements’ biggest – and most controversial – figures, including former President Donald Trump. Trump endorsed Kiley during the primary campaign in May. “Gavin Newsom’s California is not a model to the nation. It is a warning to the nation,” Kiley said as the audience cheered.

California “used to be a state where anyone could get ahead, the California dream,” Kiley said. “Now we’re the state everyone can’t wait to leave behind.” Kiley, who faces Democrat Kermit Jones in November, has been a consistent, vocal critic of Newsom. Newsom has tried recently to boost his national profile, with a television ad in Florida criticizing that state’s conservative policies and newspaper ads in Texas criticizing Gov. Greg Abbott’s policies on abortion and guns.

Kiley was a candidate in last year’s California election attempting to recall Newsom. The governor won easily. Kiley received 3.5% of the vote. Since then, Kiley, a Rocklin assemblyman, has turned his attention to his bid for the new Third District House seat. The district is being closely watched as Republicans need a net gain of four seats to win control of the House.

It goes from Plumas County in the northeast corner of the state, through Sacramento’s suburbs and south to Inyo County, between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Nevada border. The district is rated by independent analysts as a likely Republican win in November. CPAC is a gathering of conservatives that in recent years has become more identified with the Trump wing of the party. The national Democratic Party this week called the meeting “nothing but an extreme GOP cattle call.” The program has featured a parade of conservative stars, including Rep.. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., My Pillow CEO and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell and others. Kiley spoke for five minutes Saturday and told the appreciative audience that while a Democratic-run legislature and State House caused California to decline, Newsom “brought that decline to a total freefall.:”

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee

California Tax Relief: What’s In the Deal

Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders have agreed to provide as much as $1,050 to millions of California families to help with rising gas prices and inflation, they confirmed Sunday night.

The three-tier program would benefit an estimated 23 million California taxpayers, including individual filers making as much as $250,000 and joint filers making as much as $500,000, with low- and middle-income households set to receive incrementally more money.

The $9.5 billion in tax refunds, which CalMatters reported Friday, is part of a $12 billion relief plan that is central to a broader $300 billion budget deal that state leaders announced Sunday night.

“California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs, and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries,” NewsomSenate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in a joint statement.

Under the tax rebate plan, households making as much as $75,000 for individuals or $150,000 for joint filers would receive $350 per taxpayer, plus an additional $350 if they have at least one dependent. So a single parent would receive $700 and two-parent families would receive $1,050.

The amount would decrease to $250 per taxpayer for households making as much as $125,000 for individuals or $250,000 for joint filers, and to $200 per taxpayer for households making as much as $250,000 for individuals or $500,000 for joint filers. In both of these tiers, parents would receive an additional $250 or $200, respectively, if they have at least one dependent.

Californians with incomes above $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for joint filers would not receive a rebate. The relief package also includes $1.1 billion in aid for recipients of Supplemental Social Security or CalWORKs.

“The plan recognizes that some people are hurting more than others and gives them greater relief,” according to an email sent earlier this week to Assembly Democrats.

Differences in proposed spending for universities, housing and social safety net programs, as well as the details of a major climate package, lingered as the Legislature passed a placeholder budget earlier this month. But the biggest holdup to a bargain, which must pass before lawmakers leave for summer recess at the end of the month, had been the dispute over direct financial assistance for taxpayers.

Newsom and legislative leaders were at odds for months over whether to target the relief at drivers or the neediest Californians.

During his State of the State speech in March, the governor called for a plan to address spiraling gas prices, which have since reached an average of more than $6 per gallon. He proposed to send $400 debit cards to every registered vehicle owner in the state, up to two per person.

Legislative leaders firmly resisted that approach, which did not include an income limit. Progressive critics noted that it would benefit millionaires and billionaires while leaving out Californians too poor to own their own cars.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Will California Suspend its Gas Tax? Debate over Fuel Costs Rages on as Biden Weighs In

California legislators have been at odds over suspending the state’s gas tax for months, but a presidential call to action and growing Democratic support is adding energy to the movement to cut fees at the pump. President Joe Biden on Wednesday proposed that Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months and for states to “take similar action to provide some direct relief, whether suspending their own gas taxes or helping consumers in other ways.” California’s gas excise tax — which funds road and infrastructure repairs — currently costs drivers 51 cents per gallon and will rise to 54 cents in July. The federal gas tax is 18 cents per gallon for regular gasoline.

The Golden State is home to the country’s highest gas prices. The statewide average on Thursday was about $6.36 per gallon, while the national average was at $4.94 per gallon, according to AAA. Although legislative leaders continue to push against suspension, some Democrats are joining Republican lawmakers in advocating for a break while fuel costs are hitting consumers the hardest. SOME DEMOCRATS SUPPORT GAS TAX RELIEF For some time, a handful of legislative Democrats have suggested they would support some form of gas tax break. That number grew on Wednesday. In late April, a handful of Democrats, including Assemblyman Tim Grayson, D-Concord, and Assemblyman Carlos Villapudua, D-Stockton, joined a group known as the “California Problem Solvers Caucus” to support a 12-month gas tax suspension that would require retailers to pass cost savings along to consumers. On June 17, some Democratic Assemblymembers also pushed to suspend the 3-cent gas tax increase that will take effect on July 1, even though legislative leaders already declined to do so in advance of the May 1 deadline.

On Wednesday, Assemblyman Rudy Salas Jr., D-Bakersfield, in the midst of a congressional campaign, announced he plans to hold a Friday press conference in his district to call for a gas tax suspension. Assemblyman Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, also praised Biden, although he stopped short of supporting a California version of the tax holiday. Rivas has made moves to take over the Assembly Speaker role from Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, and is still campaigning for the job.

Click here to read the full article in the Fresno Bee

CA Democrats Abandon Gas Tax Holiday; Announce New Committee to Investigate Gas Price Gouging

“Friday marked 100 days of diddling by California’s supermajority party to provide relief at the pump for the state’s drivers from the record high gas prices,” the Globe reported Monday, ahead of the announcement by Assembly Democrats that rather than suspending California’s highest-in-the-nation gas taxes, they are going to “investigate” the state’s highest-in-the-nation gas prices. They are looking for a culprit.

Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) offered his retort with this: “Easy to read investigative report into how government is adding $1.30 to each gallon of gas in CA.”

And that state excise tax is going up to 53.9 cents July 1st, because as we learned Monday from Assembly Democrats, it’s too late to suspend the July 1st gas tax increase. It had to have been done 60 days ago.

Why wasn’t the July 1st gas tax increase suspended 60 days ago? Inquiring minds want to know.

Rather than address immediate solutions, Assembly Democrats Monday announced the creation of a new select committee to investigate whether the state’s oil and gas “profiteers” are price gouging. This is pitiful given that going back to last year at this time, Democrats vowed to take action to help working and poor Californians struggling to pay for gas, but have done absolutely nothing except talk about it.

“It’s no secret Californians are enduring pain at the pump,” Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks) said. “California leaders must protect consumers from harm.”  Suspending the gas tax is a good place to start, but she offered no concrete solutions – just her feelings and concerns.

The Assembly Democrats’ press conference claiming “gas price gouging” was a lot of non-commitments among elected lawmakers – lots of “we feel your pain” moments. But hey Californians, we have a new select committee to investigate the state’s high gas prices – by going after big oil.

Lawmakers said they find the high gas prices “outrageous,” and “unacceptable,” and claimed “we are doing everything in our power to provide you relief.”

Apparently Assembly Democrats are powerless, because all they have done so far is clutch at their pearls and speak in dulcet tones of their empathy and concern as they are driven in a dark SUV to and from the airport. “We are all Democrats and on the same team,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). She said Democrats are committed to a decision and fix on gas price gouging.

And that’s all she said.

With this new select committee, they can now order oil company executives to hearings and demand they open their books to show evidence of their “profiteering.”

This is what’s known as a diversion, an aberration, a deviation from the crux of the issue. (See graphic above)

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Los Angeles) talked of Californians “addiction of the gas-powered engine,” and said Chevron and Shell are “ripping off consumers.”

Republicans have consistently proposed a solution for relief at the pump – suspend the gas taxes. “The price of gas has been crushing family budgets for months,” Assemblyman Republican Leader Gallagher said in response to the Democrats’ press conference. “If Capitol Democrats were really doing everything in their power to lower gas prices, they would support our call to suspend the gas tax and halt the scheduled July 1st increase. Californians don’t need another dead-end study, they need relief now.”

“Senate Republicans have been calling for gas tax relief for a year, and keeping the pressure on is paying off. Consumers are fed-up, and Democrats are scrambling to compensate with a ‘Hail Mary’ pass on gas tax relief, said Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk.”

Wilk provided some of the policies implemented in California that drive up the cost of gasoline:

  • 51.1 cents – State gas tax (add an additional 3 cents starting July 1.)
  • 25 cents – Cap and Trade (estimate)
  • 22 cents – Low Carbon Fuel Standard (estimate)
  • 2 cents – Underground Storage Fee
  • 10-15 cents – California’s switch to summer-blend costs more to produce than other types of gasoline. Source.
  • 14.4 cents – State sales tax (estimate based on 6/20 average price)

Sen. Wilk noted that some Assembly Democrats are also joining Republicans in calling for a pause in the scheduled July 1 gas tax increase. “These are the same Democrats who failed earlier this year to suspend this increase when presented the opportunity. Senate Republicans proposed this idea last year, again in January, May, and last week.”

A curious presence at the Democrats’ press conference was Robert Herrell, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California. He assured everyone that California gas taxes are much lower here in the state than other parts of the world (See what he did… very shifty). And then he said he is “unwilling to trade California’s cleaner form of gas,” (meaning no cutting July 1 gas tax increase on the summer blend), because it’s for the climate.

He did offer a very sound suggestion to cut the “mystery gas surcharge” of .30 cents which remains a tax on California gas, a holdover from the 2015 Torrence Refinery fire.

He added this zinger at the end: “The current budget proposal is much closer to the Consumer Federation of California position,” as a nod to no relief from California’s high gas taxes. As was announced last week, the California Legislature passed a sham $300 billion budget (just so they wouldn’t lose their pay), with no gas tax relief included in it. And this is even with a $95 billion budget surplus.

“Even Joe Biden now wants to suspend the gas tax. Newsom and the Legislature are officially out of excuses and need to enact my bill immediately,” Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) Tweeted. In March Kiley introduced AB 1638 to suspend the 51 cent gas tax for six months. Democrats hijacked his bill, but he’s not giving up.

“Rather than launching a new ‘investigation,’ Governor Newsom and legislative leaders need to immediately suspend our state gas tax, which is almost 3 times higher than the federal tax.”

Kiley added: “A federal gas tax holiday would save drivers over 18 cents per gallon at the pump. If California suspended its gas tax as well, drivers would save an additional 51 cents for a total of nearly 70 cents per gallon in savings. The Penn Wharton Budget Model released last week shows “evidence that recent suspensions of state gasoline taxes in three states were mostly passed onto consumers.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Lawmakers Pass a Budget, But No Deal Yet on Gas Relief

On Monday, Senate and Assembly Democrats passed their version of the 2022-23 state budget.

While patting themselves on the back for adopting “a budget that puts California’s wealth to work for individuals, families, and businesses throughout our state,” there was one thing missing from their announcement – the support of Gov. Newsom.

Newsom and legislative Democrats are still at odds over how to give Californians some relief in the state budget from record-high gas prices and inflation.

Keep in mind that Monday’s vote was about lawmakers meeting voter-approved requirements that they pass a budget – ANY budget bill – by June 15 to keep receiving their paychecks.

Publicly for now, everyone is making nice.  Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon released a statement on Monday saying “we look forward to working with the Governor in the coming days to ensure we have a responsible budget in place for the start of the fiscal year that delivers prosperity and strengthens the future.”

Senate Budget Committee chair Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, told Calmatters “the Legislature is more than 95% in agreement with Newsom.”  Newsom, Atkins, and Rendon literally smiled for the cameras in a photo of their budget discussions tweeted out on Tuesday.

Behind closed doors, Newsom continues to press for his $11.5 billion May Revise plan to give rebates to car owners – $400 per car, for a maximum of $800.  Legislative Democrats want to give out $8 billion in rebates, $200 per taxpayer, limited to those earning under $125,000 a year for individuals and $250,000 for couples filing jointly.

One of the disputes is over how fast Californians would get relief under the competing plans.

As the Sacramento Bee reports, Department of Finance official Erica Li told lawmakers that “while the legislature’s budget includes a very important relief proposal to address these rising costs, as it’s currently structured, it will take longer to implement the smaller $8 billion and will not reach as many Californians when compared to the governor’s $11.5 billion proposal.”

Newsom’s senior advisor for communications Anthony York told Calmatters that Newsom also “remains opposed to massive ongoing spending” in the Legislative Democrat plan, which is ironic given the administration’s proposal for a record $300 billion state budget.

So far, no one is blinking.

Lawmakers and the Governor are likely testing one another’s resolve to see who will give in first.  If history is a judge, the Legislature will ultimately cave.

In 2011, then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a budget that the Legislature’s Democrat majority sent him on a majority vote calling it “unbalanced.”  As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time, “Democratic lawmakers had knowingly flirted with the possibility of a veto by stuffing their plan with the very things that Brown promised he would never sign.”

Brown exercised gubernatorial supremacy and largely dominated every future budget.  Newsom, too, has dominated his first three state budgets.

In an election year, legislative Democrats are now testing the limits of how far they can push Newsom in other areas to get what he wants – delivering immediate relief to struggling Californians.  While he will likely not veto the budget – or even issue a veto threat – his continued resistance to the plans put forward by Atkins and Rendon is further proof that the governor ultimately carries the upper hand in budget negotiations.

While Newsom wants a gas tax relief deal soon, expect the discussions over this and other thorny budget issues to drag into the summer.  Newsom and Legislative Democrats can reach a deal on a companion budget bill with changes to the main budget bill in order to win his signature by June 30, while punting the thorny issues for further discussion.

Click here to read the full article in the Pacific Research Institute

Newsom Signals He’s Open to Excluding the Wealthiest Californians From Gas Tax Rebate

SACRAMENTO — As California drivers continue to grapple with the highest-in-the-nation gas prices, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislators remain miles apart on the broad strokes of a proposal to give residents a gas tax rebate.

Newsom recently outlined new details of his plan, however, that suggest he’s open to excluding the wealthiest Californians from receiving rebates, as some Democratic legislators have insisted.

Three weeks ago, Newsom released his highly anticipated proposal to give Californians relief from soaring gas prices, calling for the state to send $400 gas tax refunds to vehicle owners in the form of debit cards, with a maximum of two refunds or $800 for those with multiple vehicles.

But state legislators have floated multiple competing proposals. Some progressives have pushed to prioritize rebates for low-income people, regardless of whether they own a vehicle. Republicans, meanwhile, have demanded the state suspend the gas tax immediately, in addition to giving rebates to drivers.

Newsom’s administration recently unveiled new details of his plan when it sent lawmakers budget bill language to enact his proposal. Here are five key questions to watch as the debate unfolds:

Would high-income drivers be included?

When the governor first announced his proposal, he called for giving refunds to all vehicle owners, regardless of their income. That sparked some criticism from some Democrats who said wealthy drivers don’t need the money.

But Newsom’s latest proposal includes a provision to potentially cap rebates for luxury vehicles valued above a set amount — signaling he’s ready to compromise. The cutoff amount is left blank in the latest bill language.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for Newsom’s budget team, said the blank cap amount reflects that the governor is negotiating with legislators who’ve called for capping rebates.

“Where we end up, we’ll have to see,” Palmer said.

Legislative leaders have floated their own proposal that would provide tax filers a $200 rebate, along with an additional $200 for each dependent. Their plan would exclude high-income earners by capping eligibility at $250,000 in household income, or $125,000 for single filers.

“The Senate’s focus has been getting real relief to people who need it most as soon as possible,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said in a statement.

Who else might be excluded?

The bill language Newsom’s administration published also outlines another group of people who could be barred from receiving rebates: drivers who have expired tags or owe money to the DMV.

His proposal would limit rebates to only people whose vehicle registration is valid as of April 6, though drivers with expired or suspended registration would have until June 30 to resolve their issues and pay any fees or penalties. That could include fees owed due to delinquent parking tickets.

Newsom’s proposal would also exclude fleet vehicles and vehicles for which the owner has filed a certificate of non-operation with the DMV.

What about transit riders and city dwellers?

Newsom’s push for gas-tax rebates has sparked protests from some mass transit users and environmentalists who said it unfairly excludes people who don’t drive cars.

The Climate Center, a Bay Area advocacy group, chided the plan this week, tweeting, “@GavinNewsom should accelerate California’s #cleanenergy transition, not subsidize the oil and gas industry with rebates.”

California YIMBY, the housing advocacy group, tweeted that gas rebates “are self-defeating — they reduce funding for critical transportation infrastructure. What California’s workers need is more affordable housing closer to jobs.”

Palmer stressed that Newsom’s $11 billion plan, $9 billion of which would pay for rebates, also includes funding for programs that would benefit transit users, cyclists and pedestrians.

“This isn’t just gas- and diesel-centric,” Palmer said. “It is a very balanced package.”

The governor has asked legislators to approve $750 million in grants for rail and transit agencies to make ridership free for three months. Newsom’s office estimated 3 million Californians ride a bus, subway or light rail daily.

In addition, Newsom’s plan includes $500 million in funding for “active transportation programs,” such as projects to expand bike lanes or make streets more pedestrian-friendly.

The governor also proposes the state fast-track spending $1.75 billion of his $10 billion budget for electric cars, so more money for buyer incentives and to build charging stations could be used in the coming year.

Click here to read the full article at the SF Chronicle

Sacramento Democrats Kill Gas Tax Relief, Transparency

As a participant in capital politics for more than 30 years, I’ve observed many abuses of power. Corruption, pettiness, gross narcissism, and dirty tricks have all increased in recent years both in terms of frequency and shock value. The latest incident, and honestly one of the more disturbing I have seen, occurred in the Assembly Transportation Committee last week.

Californians are reeling at the pump as our gas prices are the highest in the nation. The working poor and middle class are begging the Legislature for relief, which is why Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, introduced AB 1638. The bill would simply suspend the gas tax for six months.

Democrats are loath to return money to those who earned it, which is why they planned to ambush Kiley’s proposal. But their plan, much like Putin’s ill-advised invasion of Ukraine, backfired badly.

Although the bill hadn’t appeared on the agenda for the day’s hearing, Kiley was told it would be heard in committee on just a couple of hours’ notice. When he arrived, he noticed an Assembly parliamentarian was in the room, strong evidence that some procedural scheme was being cooked up.

Following the legislative formalities, the first member of the committee to speak on the bill was Alex Lee, D-San Jose. After railing on the oil companies, he immediately moved to strike all the contents of Kiley’s bill and replace it with a new tax on gas suppliers. Revenue from that tax would supposedly be sent out to people in the form of a rebate. So, in a matter of minutes, Kiley’s gas tax cut had somehow turned into a gas tax increase.

Click here to read the full article at the Redlands Daily Facts

Assembly Ambush: Assemblyman Kiley’s Gas Tax Suspension Bill Hijacked

‘Absolutely disgraceful’

“Absolutely disgraceful,” was Assemblyman Kevin Kiley’s response to the attempted ambush of his bill to suspend California’s gas tax while in a committee hearing Monday. His words were stronger when the hijack actually happened.

It was a clear partisan hearing Monday on AB 1638, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley’s bill to suspend California’s .51 cent gas tax. Opposed to the bill were building and trades labor unions, operating engineers, laborers and Democrats. Those supportive of AB 1638 was nearly everyone else.

It was a shocker Monday when Kiley Tweeted that his bill was actually going to get a same-day hearing in the Assembly Transportation Committee. But apparently, he knew something fishy was up.

Kiley opened noting that Maryland and Georgia had just reduced their gas taxes, and the people of those states saw immediate results. He said rebates are a good idea, especially with a substantial state surplus, and should be much larger, returning to overtaxed tax payers more of their own money.

Kiley said suspending the gas tax would be far more effective and provide immediate, targeted relief to drivers. “This should not be a partisan issue,” Kiley said, noting that the Connecticut Legislature and Democrat Gov. Ned Lamont just passed and signed a gas tax suspension bill.

“Californians will be dumbfounded if the Legislature refuses to do this,” Kiley said.

Those individuals, parents, taxpayers, librarians, moms, senior citizens, and working poor, who called in to the hearing expressed their support for suspending the gas tax.

Individuals opposing the bill expressed solidarity with the building trades unions. In opposition, Jeremy Smith with the State Building and Construction Trade Council said, “we are creating another crisis out of a crisis.” Smith claimed AB 1638 would be “setting aside jobs,” despite Kiley specifically addressing this earlier in his opening testimony. Kiley said it was actually written into his bill that any of the gas tax funding set aside for state infrastructure construction improvement projects via Senate Bill 1 would be back filled from the general fund, and from the state’s vast surplus ($45 billion and counting).

Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Porterville) testified in person his support for suspension of the gas tax “on behalf of the one-half million people in rural California,” District 26.

Two odd calls with the same message even made it through the Assembly operator: “I’m a young person living in a climate catastrophe – I oppose the bill.”

However, as soon as testimony ended, Assemblyman Alex Lee (D-Palo Alto) proposed a set of amendments that would have fundamentally gutted Kiley’s bill. “We are fracking the hell out of the planet,” Lee said.

When Kiley objected to the vast amendments, committee Chairwoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) ordered Kiley’s microphone turned off, and told him he had to wait to hear Assemblyman Lee’s amendments.

Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) made a motion to move the bill in print – Kiley’s bill as written – but the motion was killed by the committee on a 3-9 vote.

Chairwoman Friedman asked Lee if he had his proposed amendments in print. He did not. Lee was given time to produce the amendments, and the bill was held over until the committee could read the proposed amendments.

“Absolutely disgraceful,” Kiley said. “Absolutely disgraceful,” he directed at the committee.

When the amendments came back, Assemblyman Vince Fong unloaded. “Let’s be clear on what’s happening right now. This bill is being hijacked shockingly to raise taxes even more on energy – on a bill to suspend the gas tax.”

“This bill that was going to provide immediate gas tax relief, and this committee proposes increasing taxes,” Fong said. “Completely asinine. It makes completely no sense. So I am asking for a no vote on this bill, unfortunately.”

“Now this bill has been hijacked. That is completely unacceptable. Everyone should be ashamed with this process,” Fong added.

“I find it amazing that no one wants to hear the voices of Californians,” said Assemblywoman Laura Davies (R-Laguna Niguel). “We have almost $60 Billion in surplus – of your money.”

“Why don ‘t we have a debate on suspending the gas tax,” said Assemblywoman Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach). “Let’s have a vote. Just vote on it. Vote no. This is why Californians hate our state government.”

Nguyen said a gallon of gas costs more than a gallon of milk, forcing hurting families to choose between milk and gas. “Putting more taxes on Californians is the wrong thing to do.”

Committee chairwoman Laura Friedman had a different take: “I guess I’m all shocked you are shocked by this.” She blamed the oil industry for “giant surcharges,” and “windfall profits.”

“Don’t tax that, and hope that it trickles down to the common people,” she said. “We leave it up to those corporations to decide. There is nothing that says they don’t just pocket that money.” She then said Lee’s amendments increasing taxes on energy actually go to addressing those oil industry “windfall profits.”

“Of course we could vote this down, but we are trying to help here,” Friedman said.

But California Democrats don’t want their “no” vote registered killing a bill to suspend the gas tax. And that’s what this is really about. Politics.

Kiley offered Friedman the opportunity to put her name on the newly amended bill if she liked it so much. She stammered and accused Kiley of cross-examining her, and then said she hadn’t had enough time to read the amendments.

“So here’s the difference — we have here two proposals. I’m willing to put my name on my proposal,” Kiley said. “We are willing to own our proposal; you aren’t willing to even put your name on yours.”

“Do you ever wonder why more people are leaving our state today than ever,” Kiley asked. “This used to be the state where anyone can get ahead. Now it’s the state people can’t wait to leave behind. The proceedings here today are a perfect example of that.”

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

A $400 Gas Rebate May Be Ahead

Lawmakers’ proposal comes amid pressure to help Californians facing high prices.

SACRAMENTO — A group of Democratic state lawmakers on Wednesday called for sending a $400 rebate to every California taxpayer to help soften the blow of the recent surge in gasoline prices.

The proposal comes as pressure mounts to help Californians struggling with prices at the pump as well as increases in the costs of food, rent and other essentials. Republican lawmakers have been pushing to temporarily suspend the state’s highest-in-the-nation gas tax — 51 cents per gallon — but that appears unlikely because of opposition from Democratic legislative leadership.

“This proposed $400 rebate would cover the current 51 cents-per-gallon gas tax for one full year, 52 trips to the pump for most vehicles,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego).

“Notably, we believe a rebate is a better approach than suspending the gas tax — which would severely impact funding for important transportation projects and offers no guarantee that oil companies would pass on the savings to consumers,” said the letter, obtained by The Times on Wednesday.

The governor has been working with the Legislature to craft a tax relief package after promising in his State of the State address last week to put money “back in the pockets” of Californians who have been stung financially by the sharp rise in gas prices.

Newsom administration officials have said several ideas are under consideration, although suspending or reducing the state gas tax does not seem likely. Rendon and Atkins released a joint statement last week dousing the idea, saying it would not provide substantial assistance and could reduce funding for crucial road and bridge repairs statewide. Instead, they favored general tax relief to help Californians struggling with rising costs — not only for gas but for food, rent and other life essentials.

The proposal announced Wednesday came from a group of 10 Democrats — Assemblymembers Cottie Petrie-Norris of Laguna Beach, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry of Winters, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan of Orinda, Jesse Gabriel of Encino, Adam Gray of Merced, Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks, Evan Low of Campbell, Blanca Rubio of Baldwin Park, Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton and Carlos Villapudua of Stockton — and one independent, Assemblymember Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley.

Several of the lawmakers are generally viewed as business-aligned moderates in the Assembly Democratic caucus. They have scheduled a Thursday news conference to provide more details.

Republican leaders quickly threw their support behind the measure, though they still vowed to push for suspending the gas tax.

“This bill should be fast-tracked to the Governor’s desk and targeted to working Californians who actually feel the pain at the pump,” Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher of Yuba City said in a statement Wednesday evening.

The proposal, the lawmakers said in their letter to Newsom, should be considered as part of the state budget negotiations that will begin in late spring. Early estimates of the size of California’s tax surplus have varied and won’t become more clear until after taxpayers file their returns by next month. Even so, most estimates have been far larger than the projected $9-billion cost of the Democratic effort.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Proposal From GOP Lawmakers Would Cut California Gas Tax For Six Months

Republican lawmakers gathered in Orange County on Wednesday to drum up support for a bill that would suspend California’s gas tax for six months, saving drivers 51 cents on every gallon they pump.

“Hardworking families are having to cut back from other expenses just to fill up their gas tanks,” State Sen. Pat Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, said during a press conference in Orange’s Yorba Park, held near a Mobil gas station.

“California residents deserve some financial relief,” Bates added. “A suspension of the gas tax will go a long way.”

Democratic leaders in the legislature so far have pushed back against efforts that would reduce the revenue the state gets from the gas tax. That money, the Democrats note, is key to paying for infrastructure improvements and other vital programs statewide.

But Assembly Bill 1638, introduced in January by Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Sacramento, proposes using some of the state’s current budget surplus — which is estimated to be from $46.5 billion to $69.5 billion — to make up the $4.4 billion in revenue that would be lost during a six-month suspension of the gas tax.

“California can easily afford to reduce the burden of record high gas prices without taking money from road projects,” said Assemblywoman Laurie Davies, R-Laguna Niguel. “We don’t want to delay necessary maintenance, just help drivers afford to commute to work or bring their kids to school.”

The proposal comes as gas prices are soaring in California. As of Wednesday, March 2, the state average price is $4.87 a gallon according to AAA, or about a third higher than the national average of $3.66 a gallon. What’s more, gas prices — which are higher in California because of taxes and stricter environmental rules, among other things — are expected to increase even more as Russia’s war in Ukraine puts added pressure on already strained supplies.

The tax holiday also is being pitched during an election year, and the state GOP previously has used the gas tax as an issue to get rare wins against Democrats. In 2018, the party launched a successful recall of state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, by isolating him as one of 81 state legislators who voted in 2017 to raise the gas tax. (Newman won back the seat in 2020.)

Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, who is Republican Leader in the Assembly, organized Wednesday’s press conference, which featured three GOP candidates in Orange County who expect to face competitive races in November.

Dan Schnur, a politics professor at USC and a long-time political strategist in California, said the tax holiday idea could be a tricky one for Democrats facing competitive races. While the idea of paying for infrastructure and road improvements with a gas tax — employing thousands of people in the process — has been popular with Democratic voters, Schnur believes any vote against the tax holiday could be used as fodder for mailers and attack ads by GOP opponents.

Davies, the Assembly member from Laguna Niguel, agrees, saying the GOP “will hold Democrats accountable” on the issue.

When asked Wednesday about the GOP proposal, State Sen. Dave Min, D-Irvine, signaled he’s open to the idea. Min, who’s not up for election until 2024, said he’s also tired of the “sky high” cost of living in California.

“Any legislation that helps ease the burden on taxpayers should be on the table and will have my full consideration,” Min said. “During a year of record budget surpluses, the state should be returning tax dollars back to Californians.”

A spokesperson for Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, called the tax holiday idea “very interesting.” But the spokesperson also said Quirk-Silva’s office doesn’t yet have enough information to make an informed statement.

The gas tax holiday Republicans are proposing isn’t “radical,” Davies argued, noting that nationally even some Democrats are now calling for some version of relief.

Click here to read the full article at OC Register