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Local lawmakers seek ‘gas price’ relief

Local leaders who represent the Santa Clarita Valley in Sacramento lobbied this week for relief for California residents in the face of rising gas prices.

The news of widespread support to help drivers with the financial burden of filling up their cars comes as the average price of gasoline in California continues to be more than a dollar higher than the national average.

According to the AAA’s website, the average gasoline price in California on Friday was $5.80/gallon while the national average hovered around $4.27/gallon.

As the weekend approaches, Congresswoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, voiced her support for a proposal made by a group of Democratic lawmakers on Thursday that would provide every California taxpayer with a $400 tax refund check to offset some of the costs incurred by skyrocketing prices at the pump.

“We must grant the refund now,” Valladares said in a statement sent to The Signal on Friday. “People are struggling to pay their rent, get gas in their cars and shop right now. They can’t afford to wait months for relief.

In addition to supporting the rebate, Valladares said the state could continue to reduce the financial burden on drivers by suspending the state’s “gas tax.” According to a statement released earlier this week by Republican lawmakers in California, the state gasoline tax adds about 51.1 cents to the cost of every gallon pumped by their constituents.

“A full gasoline excise tax moratorium would immediately reduce the cost of gasoline by 54.1 cpg,” State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said in a letter he and his fellow Senate Republicans emailed Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday. “The resulting $8.1 billion revenue loss to the state is less than one-fifth of the administration’s January forecast of a budget surplus of $45.7 billion.”

At a press conference the same day the letter was sent, Wilk called on Newsom to issue a full gasoline excise tax moratorium.

“I have a district where I have over 200,000 super commuters,” Wilk said at Monday’s press conference. “They’re either from Antelope Valley, Lancaster or Palmdale, leading into Los Angeles which they call ‘the bottom’.”

“So basically it’s a holistic issue because people have to live there because they can’t afford to live in more urban areas, and then we cripple them for making the choice that they did,” Wilk added.

Democratic lawmakers who introduced the gas rebate proposal said they would use $9 billion from the state budget surplus to provide the rebate. The rebate, lawmakers said, would cover gas tax for an entire year for drivers with a 15-gallon tank.