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California car owners could get up to an $800 rebate

 March 25, 2022 at 3:20 PM PDT

S1: A proposed rebate could bring relief from high gas prices.
S2: Basically , anybody who owns a car would be getting money from the state. You would get a $400 debit card.
S1: I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS Midday Edition. A behind the scenes look at Romeo and Juliet.
S3: A lot of intimacy direction came out of faith direction , and a lot of the principals are the same.
S1: We talk about the upcoming Oscars and a few controversial changes. That's ahead on Midday Edition. For 31 days straight , San Diego's gas prices have been steadily climbing. The average price of a gallon of regular gas today is 599. If state lawmakers agreed to a proposal this week from California Governor Gavin Newsom. Car owners , transit riders and long haul truck drivers could soon see some financial relief. But local commuters are worried about how they'll cope with record high prices in the meantime.
S4: I guess it'll be nice in July , but for now , like as gas prices are still going up , that's not I mean , it's not I guess.
S2: That's a long time. I mean , I don't know. Maybe it's money now. Prices are expensive.
S1: Joining us with more on the governor's proposal is Associated Press reporter Adam Beam. Adam , welcome to the program. Hi.
S2: Hi. Thanks for having me. Okay.
S1: Okay.
S2: You would get a $400 debit card and it would be for each car that you own , but it would be a maximum of two cars. So if you owned three cars still you'd only get two debit cards. You could get a maximum of $800. And this would be for everybody. There would be no income limit. So if you own a Lamborghini , you would get a $400 debit card from the state.
S1: But how would the transit relief work ? Right.
S2: So there's another part of this. The $400 debit card is the biggest part that would cost the state about $9 billion. But for people that don't have cars , the governor is proposing to give them free rides on public transit. So he's setting aside $750 million that he would give to bus and rail agencies to pay for people's rise up to three months. And he says it would be about rides for 3 million people per day.
S1: I believe it's a total of $11 billion in relief , the governor says.
S2: We have an incredible amount of extra money this year because people just keep getting richer. During the pandemic , you know , especially the top 1% are doing very well. And the state has a lot of , you know , the state's tax rate is progressive , so it tax people at the higher level incomes more and so the money is rolling in at a record pace. We had a huge surplus last year. We're having another huge one this year , so we have a lot of money to spend.
S2: Republicans want to suspend the state's gas tax. California's gas tax is $0.51 per gallon. That's the second highest in the country. And they want to just temporarily get rid of that for six months or a year until gas prices kind of stabilize. Democrats don't like that idea. They believe that if they do that , there's no guarantee that oil companies will pass those savings along to consumers. And so they want to give money directly to drivers. Now , what the governor is proposing is he's going to tie it to the people who own cars. Democrats in the legislature have proposed giving money to everybody , taxpayers. So it wouldn't matter if you owned the car or not. Now , the legislative leadership , they want to have an income test to this. They don't want it to go to everybody because they know that California has a lot of millionaires and billionaires and they don't need help. So they want to limit it to single tax filers who have about $150,000 in taxable income per year , or if you're married or file jointly , about 250,000 per year.
S1: You also write that the response from environmentalists to this proposal has been mixed.
S2: This is a really tricky policy issue for the governor. He's trying to wean California off of fossil fuels. He has signed executive orders that are aimed at banning the sale of new gas powered cars in California by 2035. He wants to phase out all oil extraction in California by 2045. So he's really going all in on this. And yet environmentalists say yes , but by giving people money to offset the high price of fuel , you're just encouraging them to drive more. So normally when gas prices go up , people drive less. That'll be better for the environment. You have less emissions. But if the state is going to come in and subsidize that by giving people money to account for that increase , environmentalists worry that people are just going to keep driving. And so they would like to see the governor take this money and spend more of it on encouraging people to do things other than driving , walking , taking public transit. Now , this proposal does include some of that. He's got about $500 million in this proposal. It would go to pay for projects that encourage walking or biking. And then separate from this , in his regular budget proposal , he's proposed about $10 billion over five years or so to really encourage the transition to zero emission vehicles , whether that's boosting production of those cars or by installing like charging stations or more infrastructure throughout the state.
S1: This seems to be an argument over the suspension of gas taxes versus rebates.
S2: So you would assume that if they were to suspend the. That would be about a $300 benefit for most people. But the governor points out that what he's proposing is $400. So he says , I'm going to give you more than that. So that's an interesting debate. But then that's not really going to help people when they're driving by and looking at the sign on the gas station that says , how about how high prices are ? When people see those numbers creep up past $5 , $6 , $7 a gallon in some places , it's just a really huge sticker shock for people. I think a lot of people want to see those numbers come down. And while there might be getting a debit card to help them pay it , that's great. But at the prices are still high. That's still going to make this issue top of mind for a lot of people.
S2: He has to have the legislature to pass it. And so usually what that means is he will have to have high level negotiations behind closed doors with the leaders of the state assembly and the state Senate. And they're going to hash this out. And based on all of the public statements , I think they're going to land on some type of taxpayer rebate. Now , it'll be tied to cars or not. That's a big question. But I think just based on what the governor has said this week , be some type of income limit. So it probably won't go to everybody. But I think we're looking at least a couple more weeks before we see something written down in a bill type form that we'll see what to look like.
S1: I've been speaking with Adam Beam , a reporter for the Associated Press. Adam , thank you very much for joining us.
S2: Thank you.
S1: San Diego Opera turns to Shakespeare's famous tale of star crossed lovers for its second grand opera since returning to live performances at the Civic Theatre. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO goes behind the scenes of the classic French opera Romeo and Juliet.
S4: The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is fueled as much by the love shared by the title characters as it is by the hate displayed by their feuding families. Perhaps no one in the new San Diego Opera production understands those dueling passions better than Doug Schulze. Karlsen.
S3: I'm the intimacy director and the fight choreographer. A lot of intimacy direction came out of fight direction , and a lot of the principles are the same. The biggest difference is intimacy. Direction is really very concerned with affirmative consent so that the performers have the chance to consent to everything that they are going to do in the course of the performance.
S4: In the case of Romeo and Juliet , it's a progression from flirting to touching to kissing. And in Matthew Ozawa's production. The singers get to shine on a gorgeously designed but very spare set , says Schulze Carlsen.
S3: The gestures that are being made by the sets and the lighting are beautiful , but they're really stark. And that means the performers really can shine. So like for the intimacy when they're coming together , they don't have a lot of set pieces that they're traveling across or anything. You're just you're watching how the two of them are touching each other and how they're getting closer and how they kiss. The whole story is in what the performers are doing.
S4: That goes for the intimacy of close combat in fight scenes as well. Yeah.
S3: When you just have open space and I said , you know , tell the story , use movement to tell the story on this open space. I just find that really exciting.
S4: It's also exciting for singer Sarah Coyte , who has a trousers role in Romeo Juliet , which means she plays a male character.
S1: Very typical in opera. I'm what's called a mezzo soprano. A lot of mezzo soprano roles. Are.
S4: Are.
S1: Male characters.
S4: But what's not typical for her is having to engage in swordplay.
S1: So we went around the room the first five rehearsal and they asked what kind of experience we had , and I was the only one who had one.
S3: She doesn't have the specific physical vocabulary of using a sword so that she needs to learn.
S4: Court says it is very much like dance.
S1: It's very , very choreographed. It's just a matter of making sure you're focused and remembering what you're doing and staying calm.
S4: Quite , sings the role of Stefano , whose antics lead into the big battle between Tybalt and Mercutio , which involves chorus members running around as the panicked crowd. That's why Schultz Karlsson holds a fight call before every performance.
S3: In the Tybalt Mercutio fight. We've got about 40 people running full speed in different interlocking patterns around the stage , so it's all complicated. Everybody has to do their job right. So before every performance , we run all of that at half speed and just check in and then we run it at full speed so that when we get in performance , then they've tried it that night.
S4: Choreographing a fight for opera requires working closely with the conductor , in this case , Eva Bell. And the score.
S3: Of the music gives you a lot of the story that you want to tell. For instance , in this piece , the music gives you exactly when you want the stabs to happen. They give you , you know , because there's there's musical moments that you have to hit , which is really fun. For instance , which chord specifically ? There's several chords at the end of the table and a crucial fight that could be the final stab or makes you get stabbed. And he had a strong opinion about that. And I'm always happy to defer on musical questions to a maestro.
S4: The challenges that the fight choreography may not be played out at full speed until just before opening , which means some tweaking may be needed at the last minute , says Conductor. A bell.
S2: In the end , of course , everything has to fit into my tempo , the speed of the music. And so if we find in the last stages that there just isn't enough music , let's say , to cover all of the different moves of the battle , then of course something has to be cut and it won't be the music.
S4: A bell collaborates with Schulze , Carlsson , Director Ozawa and especially the singers to make sure that the opera comes together in the best way possible.
S2: It's my job also to push the limits as much as possible. I feel strongly about that , to see how far a singer can go.
S1: Sometimes to the.
S2: Point where they look at me like they want to hit me or something , but never past that point. But I believe very strongly that going to that limit is what creates great performances.
S4: And going to the limit of one's passion is at the heart of the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Beth ACCOMANDO , KPBS News.
S1: San Diego Opera's Romeo and Juliet has four performances starting Saturday at San Diego Civic Theatre. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. This Sunday , the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present the 94th annual Oscar show. Last year , the pandemic forced the Academy to scale back its gala awards show , but this year it returned to its usual pageantry , this time with controversy over proposed changes. Here to discuss those changes and all things Oscars are KPBS film critic Beth ACCOMANDO and movie wallahs podcaster Yazdi Portabella. Welcome to you both.
S4: Thank you.
S1: Thank you. So , Beth , I know you are pretty upset about the big change announced for this year. The Academy announced plans to remove eight of the craft category Oscars from the live telecast and instead pre-taped the winners an hour before the ceremony and then edit them into the regular broadcast. You know , this seems to be prompted by the record low ratings the telecast received last year.
S4: So first of all , without film editing , they couldn't pre-tape it and edit it into the show. So let me just point that out. But I just think it's unfair to cut some of these categories. Maybe you can cut the short films because they're not feature length. But the other categories , especially editing and sound , absolutely deserve to be part of the show. And if the Academy wants to cut the running time , then reduce the silly banter from the presenters or cut out the bloated musical numbers. All those things can go for me. It just feels like a slap in the face to these vital craft categories. And it's interesting because the Academy just opened a museum , and the goal of that is to educate people about the arts and science of film.
S1: Yazdi , what do you think ? I'm completely with Beth on this one. The message they're sending is that editing or production design or sound are somehow lesser crafts , disposable second class and this kind of othering of any category is never a good idea. Why not just have maybe fewer clips or no clips or just kind of shorten these category presentations but still include them in the live telecast ? It can be done. So these craft categories have been cut from the live show , but a new category called Fan Favorite , where Twitter users got to vote for the films they want to see , win is in there. Yazdi What do you think of this award ? So principally , I don't have a problem with the new gimmick category like that if it helps make things more engaging. But you're going to run into the same problems that , you know , American Idol does or any of these other shows where people call in. You can I can create 100 fake Twitter accounts. And so , you know , this this is very , very , very open to being game. And plus , if it comes at the cost of taking away from the really vital crafts categories , then that's maybe not such a good thing.
S4: I mean , again , this seems to be an attempt to increase the viewership for the awards show , but it seems to ignore the real purpose of what the Oscars are about , which is to honor outstanding work. So there's ten nominees in this category. It was basically thrown out to Twitter fans to nominate the films. So Johnny Depp has this huge following on Twitter. So a film of his that has barely been seen by anyone is one of these ten nominees , as well as Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead in this new Cinderella film. Like Yazdi said , if you're adding time into the show by creating this new category , which is a fan favorite , they're not really looking to necessarily what is the best made film or the film that reveals the most outstanding craftsmanship. It's , you know , something that people may enjoy watching , which is a different kind of category. So it just seems like you're adding time into the show and then taking it away from someplace else where it's more valuable or needed. Okay.
S1: Okay. So is there anything about the awards that you're looking forward to , like any awards categories ? Also , we have three women hosting Amy Schumer , Regina Hall , Wanda Sykes.
S4: I guess what I'm most excited about is seeing films like Drive My Car , the Japanese film and Power of the Dog Up for key awards , seeing women directors up. That's great. And the documentary category is especially strong this year with my favorite being this animated documentary called Flee. So I'm glad that some of the films I really love. From last year are up there and have the potential to get more attention.
S1: Yazdi , what do you think ? Yeah , two things. In addition to what that said , I am really looking forward to the best foreign language film winner because it's an exceptionally strong group of films which have been nominated this year. I wouldn't fault a single one of them for being picked as the winner , and I think if nothing else , ahead of the Oscars , if everybody just took the time to seek out those five films , the Oscars would have done a really good service. I mean , I'm surprised that a little , little movie called London York in the Classroom from Bhutan is nominated for Best Foreign Film. And if it gets people to watch that , that lovely , lovely bear hug of a movie , then that's a wonderful thing. And then also the second thing is that usually by this time , the prognosticators have already made up their minds who is going to win in each category ? And the outcome almost always matches that. But this year there are a couple of categories , big ones which are still open , like best film and best female actor. So I'm looking forward to see how the chips fall in those categories. Well , thank you both for talking to me about the 94th Academy Awards. This show will be televised this Sunday at 5 p.m. on ABC. Yazdi But Avalon. Beth ACCOMANDO , thank you both.
S4: Thank you.
S1: Thank you.

For a month straight, San Diego’s gas prices have been steadily climbing. The average price for a gallon of gas Friday is $5.99 a gallon. But if state lawmakers agree to a proposal this week from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, car owners, transit riders and long-haul truck drivers could soon see some financial relief. Plus, a preview of Gounod’s grand opera “Roméo et Juliette,” based on Shakespeare's famous tale of star-crossed lovers, at the San Diego Opera. And, the Academy Awards are this weekend. KPBS arts reporter Beth Beth Accomando and Moviewallas podcaster Yazdi Pithavala discuss all things Oscars.