Armed with a robust budget surplus, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced an $18.1 billion inflation relief package meant to help Californians amid the skyrocketing inflation rates.
“We enacted the most comprehensive economic stimulus program in the nation last year, getting billions in immediate relief to millions of Californians,” Newsom said in a statement. “But many folks are still struggling, especially with high costs due to inflation, so we’re leveraging this historic surplus to get money back into the pockets of Californians.”
The governor said the relief package will help offset the higher costs that Californians are facing and provide support for those still recovering from the effects of the pandemic.
Most of the money will go towards sending out $400 payments to car owners.
Newsom’s office previewed what his inflation relief package will include. Here’s what to know:
$400 checks to vehicle owners
As previously announced, the governor is proposing spending $11.5 billion for tax refunds in the form of $400 checks sent to every eligible registered vehicle owner.
Californians who have more than one vehicle registered to their name would get $800. That’s because the payments are capped at two vehicles per person, officials announced previously.
Legislative leaders have announced different plans to help Californians with cash rebates that puts Democrats in the California Senate at odds with Newsom. They will need to reach a compromise.
Emergency rental assistance
Newsom is also proposing spending $2.7 billion on emergency rental assistance, helping qualified low-income tenants who requested rental assistance before March 31.
Help with past-due utility bills
Under the governor’s plan, another $1.4 billion would be spent to help Californians pay past-due utility bills. The investment would build on last year’s utility relief program that helped residents with water and electric bills.
Payments to hospital and nursing staff
Another $933 million would be spent providing up to $1,500 payments to hospital and skilled nursing facility workers who were caring for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Free Public Transit
Newsom also wants to spend $750 million on incentive grants to provide three months of free public transportation for communities throughout the state.
Making health coverage more affordable
The governor’s plan also includes $304 million to make health coverage more affordable for some families. The proposal would extend health insurance premium assistance under Covered California for families of four earning up to $166,500 annually.
The governor’s office said this would affect upwards of 700,000 Californians.
Pausing diesel sales tax
Newsom is also proposing $439 million for a 12-month pause in the sales tax rate for diesel fuel.
Waiving child care fees for some families
Newsom also wants to spend $157 million to make state-subsidized preschool and child care more affordable.
His office said this would benefit 40,000 low-income families, helping them save up to $595 per month.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Newsom was proposing a pause on gas tax. He is proposing a pause on diesel tax. This story has been updated.