What is your reason for opposing Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed rebate of $400 per registered vehicle (up to $800 per driver) to offset high gas prices? That including owners of electric cars makes no sense? How does subsidizing driving harm the fight against climate change? That excluding Californians without cars deprives those who need it most and who are also affected by inflation? That temporarily suspending the state gas tax would be the easiest way to help?
That’s all of the above for our letter writers, none of whom have endorsed (as of this writing) the governor’s plan to pay millions of Californians to have a car registered in their name. I wouldn’t say that belies the idea that car culture rules California (it certainly does, as a breath of fresh air in any major city here can tell you), but it does suggest that more people are thinking critically about the ways our government gets people moving.
For the editor: As a cyclist who does not own a car, I am appalled by Newsom’s decision to exclude non-car owners from the tax relief package. This policy proposal implies that non-car owners are less affected by inflationary pressures and non-car owners are less worthy of financial assistance.
Newsom often talks about social equity and making California a place that works for everyone, not just the wealthy. Giving financial aid to people who can afford multiple Teslas while withholding it from people who can’t afford a car goes against every value Newsom claims to hold dear as a public servant.
The governor also frequently cites sustainability as an issue of utmost importance to California. Sustainability is an issue I’m also very passionate about: commuting by bike is a way of expressing my commitment to improving our air quality and reducing our collective carbon footprint. California should hold up behavior like mine as an example to other citizens of how we can build a more sustainable future together.
Instead, Newsom’s tax relief program devalues my behavior while rewarding truck owners who get 20 mpg. I have never felt more invisible to my own government than when I read the details of Newsom’s proposal.
Harrison Mintz, Los Angeles
For the editor: As one of many Californians without a car, I totally agree with your editorial on Newsom’s proposal.
I live in Los Angeles and rely on Metro and Lyft to get me where I need to go. The subway interrupted the 201 line, which stopped a block from my apartment. I now have to walk several blocks, often on uneven pavement, to get to the nearest bus stop.
Lyft has become a little less reliable due to a driver shortage. I would like the company to cover the fuel costs of their drivers, at least until the problem is solved.
Sue Kamm, Los Angeles
For the editor: Never has Newsom seemed richer or more out of touch than now. He’s pushing for votes by offering $400 checks to wealthy car owners who scream about gas prices, while ignoring those who don’t own cars and live in poverty.
Who needs that extra $400, the person struggling to feed their family because rising gas prices have translated into higher food prices, or Jay Leno with his 100+ cars ? The wealthy shouldn’t get a penny of state relief money, period.
Phoebe Millerwhite, Claremont
For the editor: Why would anyone even think of giving Caruso and other billionaires up to $800 in tax refunds to help with high gas prices? I’m a retired social worker earning a modest income, but I’d rather forgo the reimbursement and see it distributed to the working poor.
How about a cap of $50,000 per year of income? Then maybe we could increase the much-needed additional funding to $1,200 per family.
Can you imagine a scenario where you had to decide between filling up your car or paying your rent? I’m sure there are families who are thinking about this question.
Judy Melton, Pasadena
For the editor: Just two months ago, Newsom claimed California was in a “transformation moment” to move away from fossil fuels. He is now proposing an $11 billion direct subsidy for drivers and only $750 million to reduce transit fares?
The “pain at the pump” is being felt by everyone in the state from increased spending on groceries, shopping, and other cost-of-living expenses. With low-income families being the least likely to afford a car, this appears to be the least equitable and environmentally harmful option for mitigating high gas prices.
Alex Hedbany, Culver City
For the editor: If the purpose of the proposed refund contemplated by the Legislative Assembly is to lessen the financial impact on California of rising gasoline prices, I would like to suggest a fairer alternative.
Eliminate the portion of state gasoline tax paid at the pump, then calculate the amount of lost revenue for California transportation funds and reimburse it from the state’s general fund.
This will provide immediate relief to most Californians without having to wait for cash payment from the state. This would relieve everyone who buys gasoline. Those who rely heavily on fuel in their businesses (like truckers and delivery services) would gain much more relief.
Len Foster, Palm Desert