Democrats in the California Senate on Thursday outlined a plan for spending the state’s budget surplus and it includes a plan to give $8 billion back to some taxpayers in the form of $200 checks.
The Democrats — who have a majority of seats in the state Legislature — announced a plan confirms most of what Newsom announced in January, with some new proposals.
One of the biggest additions is a plan to send $200 checks to every taxpayer who makes less than $125,000 per year, or $250,000 per year for couples who file joint returns.
The plan would also guarantee $200 checks for every dependent, meaning a family of five would get $1,000.
That proposal puts Democrats at odds with Newsom, who wants to send checks as large as $800 to people who own cars in California to help offset record-high gas prices.
Newsom has said that his plan will cost about $9 billion.
Both Newsom and Democratic lawmakers have said they want to get this money to taxpayers as soon as possible. But so far, they haven’t been able to agree on how to do it. In general, Democratic lawmakers say they don’t like Newsom’s plan because the money would only go to people who own cars. Newsom’s plan also includes $750 million to give people free rides on public transit for three months.
“We stand ready to act as soon as the Governor joins us in supporting a plan that provides stronger relief for California families,” the Legislature’s top two leaders, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, said in a joint statement earlier this week.
California’s gas tax increases slightly each year because of inflation. The tax is scheduled to increase about 3 cents per gallon on July 1. Newsom had proposed a bill that would halt that increase this year, which must pass before Sunday to have enough time to take effect. But Democratic leaders in the state Legislature never called it for a vote.
Republicans, meanwhile, want to temporarily suspend the state’s gas tax, which at 51.1 cents per gallon is the second-highest in the country. Thursday, a small group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers revealed a plan that would suspend the entire gas tax for a year, while ordering that the savings be passed on to drivers instead of oil companies. But legislative leaders have already said they won’t do that, a sign the proposal likely doesn’t have the support to pass.
California’s gas prices have risen along with the rest of the country.
On Friday, the state’s average stood at $5.70 per gallon, higher than the national average of $4.15 per gallon, according to data from AAA.