State leaders remain at odds on gas relief, drivers continue to suffer

For immediate release:

As drivers in Southern California continue to pay near $6 per gallon of gas, state Democrats continue to debate the best way to get relief to as many people as possible. 

"The fights in California are fights between Democrats," said Loyola Law Professor Jessica Levinson. "We're seeing now the fault lines between the governor and the legislature."

According to Triple AAA, a gallon of regular gas in Los Angeles County costs an average of $5.85 a gallon compared to just over $4 a gallon a year ago. 

"I think people are pissed off," said Irvine Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris. "They're reminded each and every day they drive by a gas station prices are sky-high."

Because of the massive state surplus, Petrie-Norris introduced a relief package back in March that would have seen a $400 check to California residents. However, with Newsom and other state Democratic leaders proposing their own plans, the legislature is at odds on which proposal to approve. 

"We're seeing the governor really wanting to get checks in the hands of households much faster," said Levinson. "The legislature saying 'Not so fast. Not sure if that's money we want to give away and not sure we want to give away this soon and in that way."

In an interview with the Bay Area News Group Newsom said his plan would send $400 to residents with registered vehicles, claiming it would be the quickest way to get money out to residents. 

"One thing I really do appreciate about Gov. Newsom right now is he gets it," said Petrie-Norris. "He gets the urgency of this and he — like me — is pushing to take swift action. 

He also criticized the alternative plan proposed by state Senate and Assembly leaders, which would be a rebate, would take longer since the state is already tied up sending back tax refunds.

"We have been clear from the first conversations on the issue that the Legislature wants to help as many people as we can, as quickly as possible," the State Senate President and Assembly Speaker said in a statement. "We are actively working on the best way to deliver that support to Californians in need."