Newsom wants tax refund, touts ‘California Way’ of governing | National Policy
By ADAM BEAM and DON THOMPSON – Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Governor Gavin Newsom has offered to send money back to taxpayers to offset record gas prices, but rejected calls for more oil drilling, saying he wanted to free the state “once and for all from the grip of petro-dictators.
The average price of a gallon of gasoline in California is the highest in the country at $5.44, according to AAA — a number that is expected to rise after President Joe Biden banned Russian oil imports on Tuesday in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Newsom’s proposal, announced during his annual state of the state address, would likely take the form of a tax refund. But the governor gave no details, saying he will work with legislative leaders “to put money back in the pockets of Californians to deal with rising gas prices.”
Dee Dee Myers, Newsom’s senior adviser, told reporters the reimbursement would likely total billions of dollars and would be limited to people who have cars. People who live in the country illegally would also be eligible for the rebate, which could take place as early as this spring.
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In a high-profile speech, Newsom also warned that authoritarianism isn’t just on the rise overseas, using his election year speech to offer “a California way” as an antidote to what he called them “agents of a national anger machine”.
Newsom, a Democrat who easily fended off a midterm recall campaign last year, also touted his administration’s progress on homelessness, the economy, education and climate change in a speech. before lawmakers gathered in an auditorium near the state capitol. By contrast, last year’s speech — delivered amid the pandemic — was delivered outdoors in an empty Dodger Stadium, which was being used as a mass testing site.
This year, the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are plummeting and the country’s attention is drawn to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the accompanying spike in gasoline prices. Republicans nationwide and in California want to see the Biden administration increase drilling. Newsom rejected that appeal.
“Drilling for even more oil,” he said, “only leads to even more extreme weather, more extreme drought, more wildfires.”
“We need to fight polluters, not make them stronger,” Newsom said. “And in doing so, free us once and for all from the grip of the petro-dictators.”
As he did throughout the speech, Newsom offered “California’s leadership” as an alternative, calling clean energy “this generation’s greatest economic opportunity.”
California is one of the most oil-rich states in the country and Republicans, who are a small minority in the Legislature and hold no statewide office, consider high oil prices essence as an election year problem that they can exploit. California taxes gasoline at 51.1 cents a gallon, second only to Pennsylvania, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators.
“Gas prices are out of control. Let’s suspend the gas tax, stop using foreign oil, and focus on energy independence policies that don’t impose new burdens on working families,” MP Suzette Martinez Valladares said in the newspaper. republican. “prebut” to Newsom’s speech.
Newsom has also offered to suspend a small increase in the national gasoline tax that is expected to come into effect this summer. But Democratic leaders in the Legislative Assembly balked at the proposal, arguing that it would make it harder to maintain the state’s roads while providing barely noticeable relief at the pumps.
Republican House Leader James Gallagher said Republicans, though critical of Newsom in other areas, can work with him on the tax refund.
“If we have a surplus of almost $60 billion in the state, that means people are overtaxed and we should be giving some of their money back to the voters and the citizens of this state, especially in the difficult times that we go through when the cost of living is through the roof,” Gallagher said.
The governor has also pushed to wean California, famous for its car culture, from the internal combustion engine.
Newsom ordered the state to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035 and to stop all oil drilling in the state by 2045.
The Newsom administration issued 632 oil drilling permits in 2021 and so far this year, but about 300 of them have yet to be used, according to the governor’s office.
Several environmental groups have said Newsom should impose an immediate moratorium on oil and gas development.
Newsom fired back at Republicans blaming Democratic policies for the increase in crime. He said California was funding increased crime-fighting efforts but would “not revert to the authoritarian policies that marked past failures.”
Newsom began and ended his speech as if addressing a national audience as he decried developments elsewhere while promoting California’s efforts to “find new solutions to big problems.” Democracy is in danger, warned Newsom.
“While we may not have strong men literally waging war in our country, we are tormented by the agents of a national anger machine, fueling division, weaponizing grievances,” he said. he declares. “Mighty forces and strong voices – stoking fear and seeking to divide us, weakening the institutions of our democracy.”
He offered the California story as an alternative “to broaden the horizon of what is possible.”
“We know government can’t be the complete solution, but we also know government has always been part of the solution,” Newsom said.
He said governments’ goals should include promoting the private sector, encouraging diversity and “unifying towards a common goal”.
Polls consistently show that homelessness is one of the most pressing issues for California voters. The state has the largest homeless population in the nation and Newsom has budgeted a record $12 billion for various programs and initiatives, but encampments still proliferate.
In his speech, Newsom touted his plan unveiled last week to create new Courts of care in every county that could force people with mental health issues off the streets and into treatment.
But Gallagher, the GOP leader, said Newsom had already spent billions of dollars fighting homelessness, “and the problem has gotten worse. You can’t just show up and do some cleaning with the device. photo around and another photo shoot and say, ‘Mission accomplished.’ It does not work.
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