Gov. Newsom calls for gas price relief for Californians

Gov. Gavin Newsom touted California as an economic powerhouse leading the way on vexing issues from chronic homelessness, a warming climate and improving public education in his State of the State speech Tuesday, and promised relief as the state’s already high gas prices hit records.

“People have always looked to California for inspiration,” Newsom said in remarks at the Natural Resources Agency headquarters in Sacramento. “And now, in the midst of so much turmoil with stacking stresses and dramatic social and economic change, California is doing what we have done for generations, lighting out the territory ahead of the rest, expanding the horizon of what’s possible.”

Republicans have called on Newsom and his fellow Democrats to give motorists a gas tax holiday as average prices hit about $5.50 a gallon. The governor proposed pausing the gas tax increase that would kick in this summer in his budget but said “it’s clear we must go further.” He said he’ll submit “a proposal to put money back in Californians’ pockets to address rising gas prices.” He did not elaborate.

Dan Schnur, a former GOP political consultant and professor at the University of Southern California, said Newsom sensed political danger from sharply rising gas prices, but he left himself room to decide how far to go in providing relief. Democrats pushed for a gas tax in 2017 to pay for road projects.

“It sounds like he might be going further now,” Schnur said, “but he didn’t say how far.”

Newsom added that the real answer to restrain rising gas prices is moving away from fossil fuels.

“One thing we cannot do is repeat the mistakes of the past, embracing polluters, drilling even more oil, which only leads to even more extreme weather, more extreme drought, more wildfire,” Newsom said.

Newsom’s remarks came as the COVID-19 pandemic that has consumed much of his governorship eases and state coffers overflow. He trumpeted California as the world’s fifth largest economy, with gross domestic product growth outpacing the rest of the country and a million new jobs added in the last 12 months.

Even so, California’s unemployment rate of 5.8% as of December is one of the nation’s highest.

And the Golden State faces a host of problems weighing on voters aside from soaring gasoline prices: Homelessness; high-profile thefts that have followed criminal justice reforms Newsom and fellow Democrats embraced; and with little rain since December, a third year of drought and the prospect of another devastating fire season.

Though Newsom handily beat a recall effort six months ago, a Feb. 15 Berkeley IGS poll found his approval rating had slipped below 50% for only the second time since he took office, with 48% approving and 47% disapproving of his job performance, even as large majorities say the coronavirus situation is improving.

Two out of three surveyed disapproved of Newsom’s handling of homelessness and a majority were unhappy with how he’s dealt with crime after a series of high-profile smash-and-grabs at stores around the …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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