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Rising gas prices motivates Governor Newsom to send a stipend to driving Californians

While still under approval, this bill proposed by Gavin Newsom could be released by this July.

Gas prices in Los Angeles are 6 dollars a gallon. In order to combat this, Gov. Newsom proposed a bill that offers Californians $400 for each registered vehicle in their name, capping at $800 per person. Vehicles include motorcycle and electric cars. Yohanna Bauerdorf has the story.

The bill has not been approved yet, but if it is approved the first payments would go out in July. We spoke to Asha Weinstein Agrawa about her ideas on the bill. Agrawa, who works as the director of the Minetta Transportation Institute National Transportation Finance Center, said

ASHA WEINSTEIN AGRAWA: I would say that long term it’s not particularly going to help people. I don’t think it’s enough money to have a long term impact in terms of vehicle choices.

Agrawa also explained the environmental consequences of the bill.

AGRAWA: We in California have made a number of years now a pretty clear policy choice to try and encourage people to either drive more fuel efficient vehicles or take transit or walk or bike. And so tying these payments to vehicle ownership to me feels like it is sending exactly the wrong signal. And if we want to help people who are low income, I think we should simply find a way to give money to people who are low-income, regardless of whether or not they own vehicles.

Agrawa additionally discusses the potential latent consequences of the bill, and how it may not truly benefit those who need it most.

AGRAWA: If your goal is to help families who are struggling right now, this is an incredibly wasteful way to reach them because in addition to the payments, the families that really need it, you’re going to be giving similar payments to families who don’t need it. We’re all happy to get a check from the government and nobody’s going to complain. But you know, much of California does not need that help right now.

Rather than give a rebate to all California drivers, Agrawa proposed an alternate more practical solution that focuses on alleviating public transportation costs.

AGRAWA: You would perhaps make the fares free for people who need some minimum income or up to some maximum income. But that’s a lot more difficult to implement.

According to Agrawa while the bill may lessen the financial burden of gas prices for some, it is not helpful enough to outweigh the the potential effects that incentivizing driving could have on the environment.

The Senate and Assembly released their own proposal in response to surging prices. They plan to offer $200 rebates to each California taxpayer and dependent, excluding the top 10 percent of earners. Rebates are offered regardless of owning a vehicle.