How will California's lawmakers respond to public concerns over the high cost of gas?
The price of gas continued climbing in California over the weekend, although not as much as the nearly 50-cent-a-gallon jump the average price has taken since the beginning of March. The ban on Russian oil coupled with pandemic production issues are making the weekly commute a drain on drivers’ budgets. And economists say high gas prices will only increase inflation, potentially pushing the high price of food, clothes and rent even higher.
"Gas is this amazing thing. Whether you buying it or not, you see the price of it everywhere you go," UC San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser said. "And so it's the thing that crystallizes everyone's concerns about inflation in the economy. And if you're driving an electric car, you still see this. If you're not driving an electric car, you're really feeling it every time you fill up your gas tank. And it bears a larger burden on people who have lower incomes and it squeezes their income more. So it's a big issue right now in California."
The public’s concern and growing anger over this economic squeeze has prompted attention from politicians. On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration suggested a tax-rebate proposal might be offered to help consumers. Other lawmakers say the state should issue a new round of stimulus checks or lift the gas tax for a limited time.
Kousser joined Midday Edition on Monday to talk about how increased gas prices and high inflation are affecting California and the pros and cons of each of the political solutions being offered.