Will a gas rebate actually happen in California? What we know so far

people walk by a gas station
Gas prices in Westchester were above $6 a gallon on March 13, 2022.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, March 21. I’m back! Justin Ray here.

State lawmakers are trying to create a rebate to every California taxpayer to help soften the blow of the recent surge in gasoline prices. The Times has published a full guide on the rebates, but here are the main points to know:

Who would be eligible?

Previously, lawmakers proposed delivering to every Californian who pays state income taxes a $400 rebate, regardless of their income. That means everyone from zillionaires to people like me would get it. Because the payments would be sent to each individual taxpayer, married couples would receive $800.

On Friday, Democratic leadership delivered another proposal that would deliver to residents at least $200, increasing that amount based on their number of dependents. That plan would include households making up to $250,000 but would exclude Californians earning higher incomes.


However, Assembly Member Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine) said that decisions about who would receive a rebate and how much they would get will be hashed out during negotiations with the legislative leadership and the governor. So the criteria may change.

When will we be seeing checks?

It isn’t yet clear, and the truth is that a rebate isn’t definite. But many lawmakers want to send funds as soon as possible.

Petrie-Norris said the state should not wait until the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom agree on the entire state budget, which is traditionally completed in late June. “Our goal is to be able to do this in the spring, and all the folks here are going to be pushing really, really hard to make that happen,” Petrie-Norris said at a news conference.

What are the odds that a $400 tax rebate will pass?

We do know that the governor wants to help residents. During his State of the State speech, Gavin Newsom said he’s developing a plan with the Legislature to help people afford fuel. But what that will look like isn’t clear.


“It’s clear that the governor and both Democratic and Republican leaders in the Legislature want to provide tax relief to Californians hit hard by high gas prices as well as increasing costs for food, housing and other daily needs,” reporter Phil Willon wrote when discussing the rebate. “Because of the give-and-take of most spending negotiations in Sacramento, however, the odds of the $400 tax rebate proposal passing as is are not high.”

Related Reading:

President Biden’s ban on the importation of Russian oil, which is intended to undermine President Vladimir Putin’s ability to wage war in Ukraine, has contributed to soaring gasoline prices. It has also given oil industry advocates a new cudgel with which to fight California’s pumping restrictions.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Note: Some of the sites we link to may limit the number of stories you can access without subscribing.


Latinos, who are nearly half the population and a third of the electorate in L.A., are a political force. The group is a huge asset that L.A. mayoral candidates are making a play for by hiring Latino staffers, expanding their bilingual marketing and, in some cases, attempting to connect with voters in Spanish as they gear up for the June 7 primary. Top issues for Latino residents in L.A. County are the pandemic, homelessness and the economy, according to a survey commissioned by the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State Los Angeles and the California Community Foundation. Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León, who running for mayor, greets constituents.
Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León, who running for mayor, greets constituents at the grand opening of his campaign headquarters on March 12.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles County sheriff’s helicopter crash-landed in the Azusa-Glendora area with five passengers onboard. All five passengers have been rescued and were airlifted to Pomona Valley Medical Center, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Los Angeles Times

Text messages claim misconduct by Garcetti aide as mayor’s nomination faces challenges. As Mayor Eric Garcetti’s ambassadorial nomination to India faces more scrutiny in the Senate, new text messages viewed by The Times on Friday suggest that a former Garcetti spokeswoman may have been subjected to unwanted kisses and “squeezes” by one of the mayor’s most powerful aides, and later, that she didn’t speak up because she didn’t want to “bring down” the mayor. Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gives his annual State of the City speech on April 19, 2020.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gives his annual State of the City speech on April 19, 2020.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

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In a nine-minute video, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the Russian people to see the truth about the war in Ukraine, invoking his father’s Nazi past to illustrate the power of lies. Schwarzenegger in the now-viral video says he’s sending the message through different channels in an attempt to punch through propaganda and reach Russia’s citizens and soldiers fighting in Ukraine. He noted his long personal history with Russia: traveling there to film movies and meet bodybuilding fans — as well as his adoration for a Soviet-era weightlifter. Los Angeles Times


Palm Springs could soon become a refuge for trans youth from conservative states. Democratic California lawmakers announced new legislation that would provide legal refuge to displaced transgender youth and their families. But Palm Springs Mayor Lisa Middleton said the city is already working with hotels and tourism organizations to be prepared to shelter people. “We will be here to greet you and welcome you into our community,” she said. “We are [a] stronger community because of the diversity we have in this state. We are committed to diversity and inclusion.” KESQ


‘Atheist Pirates’ remove illegal religious signs from public streets and overpasses. You might recall my extended talk with an L.A. atheist organization last year. Well, the same organization was recently highlighted for taking down illegally placed religious materials from public streets. “People put a lot of passion behind these signs and their messages and ideas about Jesus and God,” said Evan Clark, executive director of Los Angeles-based Atheists United. “I don’t like to be confrontational about any of that. I just wanted to do this as a casual thing to keep our streets secular.” Religion News

Atheists United hosts a monthly food giveaway to the needy in Los Angeles.
Atheists United hosts a monthly food giveaway to the needy in Los Angeles.
(Evan Clark)

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After a record dry start to 2022, California water officials announced Friday that they were cutting State Water Project allocations from 15% to 5%, and warned residents to brace for a third year of drought. Given the current conditions, Heather Cooley, a water researcher at the Pacific Institute, said the state’s decision makes sense. “Reservoirs are low, the snowpack is low, so we’re not going to see much refilling of those reservoirs as the snow melts, and as a result we just have less water to go around,” she said. “I do think a reduction in the allocation is appropriate and warranted.” Los Angeles Times



What happens when admissions becomes a lottery. The New Yorker has published a story about Lowell High School, located in western San Francisco. The elite institution dropped its selective admissions and adopted a lottery system, which has exposed truths about education. “At Lowell, students entered in the ninety-seventh percentile and left in the ninety-seventh percentile. The heavy lifting seemed to be done not in the classroom but in admissions,” Nathan Heller writes. The New Yorker

Sacramento City Unified schools may close Wednesday if a planned strike by teachers and other staffers isn’t averted, the district warned. The closure would affect about 40,000 students in the district. Sacramento Bee

How Girl Scout cookies season turned into a hard lesson. A labor shortage at a Kentucky bakery led to Bay Area Girl Scouts being unable to fulfill requests for the sweets. However, the mother of one kid discovered that every single kind of cookie was available on DoorDash. Girl Scouts’ partnership with DoorDash, allowing troops to sell cookies on the delivery platform, is new this year. But not all girls were given the chance to participate. “It was not the education I was expecting to give to my daughter from Girl Scouts about fairness and access and bridging the digital divide, but it’s definitely an education in how business works in our country today,” mom Liz Johannesen said. San Francisco Chronicle

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Los Angeles: Overcast 76 San Diego: Overcast 68 San Francisco: Overcast 66 San Jose: Overcast 72 Fresno: Overcast 74 Sacramento: Overcast 80. I think about this TikTok video all the time.


Today’s California memory is from Patrick Pine:

As a student at Eureka High in far northern California in the late ‘60s, and president of our Key Club (junior Kiwanis), I was flown to San Diego for the annual meeting of Kiwanis. That was the equivalent of flying to a foreign country. But San Diego was much different then — we were at the biggest hotel then — the Roosevelt. And we were taken down by bus to visit the tourist part of Tijuana, when crossing the border was no big deal. I like visiting San Diego now but I liked a much different San Diego then. One thing has not changed: They still wear flannel up in Humboldt County, and they still do not wear flannel in San Diego. “


If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

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