Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom announces his gas rebate plan in Sacramento. Image from Twitter

Vehicle owners in San Diego and across California would receive $400 debit cards from the state under a proposal unveiled Wednesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom in an effort to provide relief from skyrocketing gas prices.

Under Newsom’s proposal, Californians would receive a $400 debit for each registered vehicle they own, with a limit of two. According to the governor’s office, the average motorist pays about $300 in gasoline excise taxes each year.

The rebate program will cost a total of $9 billion. Newsom also proposed $2 billion in other measures:

  • $750 million to provide grants to transit agencies to offer free rides for three months
  • $600 million to pause a portion of the sales tax on diesel fuel for a year
  • $523 million to pause inflation adjustments to gas and diesel excise tax rates

“We’re taking immediate action to get money directly into the pockets of Californians who are facing higher gas prices as a direct result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine,” Newsom said in a statement.

“But this package is also focused on protecting people from volatile gas prices, and advancing clean transportation — providing three months of free public transportation, fast-tracking electric vehicle incentives and charging stations, and new funding for local biking and walking projects.”

Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong called the proposal an attempt “to band-aid the affordability crisis crushing Californians.”

“Californians are overtaxed and the cost of everything is on the rise,” Fong, who represents the Bakersfield area, said in a statement. “Let’s provide immediate relief by suspending the gas tax, expand domestic energy supplies and permanently reduce income taxes on everyday Californians.”

“These common sense solutions require the governor to have the political will,” he sid.

Newsom’s proposal came on a day that the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in San Diego County reached $5.968.

The proposal needs to be approved by the state Legislature. Newsom’s office estimated the debit cards could be issued beginning in July.

Updated at 7:45 a.m., Thursday, March 25, 2022

City News Service contributed to this article.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.