California Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders could have nearly $100 billion of extra cash to spend, with the state expecting a record budget surplus this year. Newsom wants to give some of that money directly back to residents, easing the burden of skyrocketing inflation. 

-Registered vehicle owners could receive $400 checks, a statement issued by the governor’s office on Thursday said. The refund would be capped at two checks per individual under Newsom’s plan — in other words, if you own three cars, you will receive $800. The plan proposed $11.5 billion for tax refunds to address rising gas prices.

-Qualified low-income tenants who requested rental assistance before March 31 could see relief checks. Who specifically would qualify and how much money they would receive is not known at this time. Newsom suggested $2.7 billion for emergency rental assistance. 

-People who ride public transit would benefit from free service for a limited period. Newsom proposed providing three months of free public transportation for communities throughout the state. The cost of such a plan is estimated to be $750 million.

-Low-income families could qualify for savings of up to $595 a month for child care and preschool. Newsom called for $157 million to waive child care fees.

-Residents could receive relief to help pay past-due utility bills. The proposal includes $1.2 billion for electricity bills and $200 million for water bills. Like the rent relief, it’s unclear who would qualify and how large the checks would be.

-People who drive vehicles that run on diesel could benefit from a 12-month pause on the sales tax tagged onto diesel fuel, which would provide some $439 million in relief.

The 2023 proposal comes as Californians face skyrocketing housing prices and record-high prices at the gas pump. The projected inflation for the 2021-2022 fiscal year that ends June 30 will be more than 7% higher than the year before, the California Department of Finance said in its budget summary.

The inflation is expected to trigger a minimum wage increase. State law requires minimum wage to go up to $15.50 per hour for all workers on Jan. 1 if inflation exceeds 7%. The minimum wage is currently $14 an hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees and $15 an hour for employers with 26 or more workers.

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