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Governor's gas price relief proposals get mixed reaction from drivers, lawmakers

Plenty of reactions today to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to give consumers some relief from high gas prices by sending them $400 debit cards. KPBS reporter John Carroll has the responses from lawmakers in Sacramento and from San Diegans bearing with the pain at the pump.

The all-too-familiar pain at the pump is not getting any less painful for San Diegans. KPBS talked to several drivers filling up at a San Diego ARCO station on Thursday.

“It’s $5.89. I remember when it used to be like $3.40, $3.50?” one lamented.

The average price of a gallon of gas rose for the 30th straight day Thursday, hitting $5.98. Over the past month, the average price has risen $1.23.

The main portion of Gov. Gavin Newsom's proposal entails giving up to two $400 debit cards to owners of registered vehicles. It also includes $750 million for three months of free public transit, up to $600 million to pause part of the diesel sales tax for a year, which is very important to truckers, and $523 million to pause the inflation adjustment for the gas and diesel excise tax.

“Well, that would be helpful. I mean, I’m having to fill up about every four days, so that’s like $60 twice a week," one driver said.

What the governor didn’t say in his Twitter video is that the relief wouldn’t arrive until July at the earliest. People we talked to didn’t like that part so much.

“It needs to be now. It needs to be now. The price is expensive," a man filling up his Mazda said.

Governor's gas price relief proposals get mixed reaction from drivers, lawmakers

Republicans pounced on the delay in relief. Assembly minority leader James Gallagher, of Yuba City, said: "Californians are struggling and Capitol Democrats are dragging their feet. How could it possibly take that long?”

But Democratic Assemblymember Chris Ward of San Diego said in a statement that Republicans are just using smoke-and-mirror tactics. Ward pointed out that a Republican proposal to suspend the gas tax would cause the state to default on payments to fund road repair — and he said gas stations wouldn’t have to lower their prices anyway.