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Gas prices are so high, this state wants to give everyone a $400 stimulus

A close-up of a person opening a wallet with cash

And just like that, stimulus payments are starting to look like they’re back in the cards for millions of Americans. Thanks to a somewhat surprising catalyst — the rising prices at the pump, which are prompting lawmakers to propose different forms of what amounts to a gas rebate.

That’s a far cry from where things stood stimulus-wise at the national level as 2021 drew to a close. When, remember, one Democratic US Senator was all it took to ensure that a continuation of monthly stimulus checks from the federal government would not be happening in 2022. President Biden would certainly like them to continue, especially as we inch closer toward a contentious midterm election season this fall. As it turns out, though, gas prices might have provided the perfect excuse for more checks to happen.

California stimulus

Let’s start on the state level, and then work up to the federal government.

Fresh off of two rounds of Golden State Stimulus checks, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed an all-new series of payments. Every owner of a vehicle registered in the state would be eligible for a $400 payment. With the money coming in the form of a debit card, as soon as July — if the proposal ends up passing muster with the state legislature, that is.

Moreover, the payments would be capped at a maximum of two vehicles per person. Meaning, people could get up to two payments.

a man wearing a suit with his hands and arms outstretched
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, shown making public remarks. Image source: ZUMAPRESS.COM/Mega

According to Newsom’s office, an average California driver spends about $300 in gasoline excise tax over a year.

“The proposal provides up to two $400 rebates per vehicle, for owners to support families with more than one vehicle in use,” a news release from Newsom’s office explained. “Eligibility will be based on vehicle registration, not tax records, in order to include seniors who receive Social Security Disability income and low-income non-tax filers. The Governor’s proposal does not have an income cap in order to include all Californians who are facing higher prices due to the cost of oil.”

Gas Rebate Act of 2022

Meanwhile, it’s not just at the state level where lawmakers are discussing potential gas rebates to offset increases at the pump.

There’s also the Gas Rebate Act of 2022. Remember the name of that legislation, because it’s probably the best chance for anything else resembling a stimulus check from the federal government. For now, at least.

Three Democratic lawmakers in the US House of Representative have put forward a bill that would authorize $100 monthly stimulus checks this year. The catch is that they would only go out when the national gas price average tops $4/gallon. If you’ve filled up your tank recently, of course, then you know that we’re already there.

As it stands now, this act also includes a means test. Individuals making less than $75,000 annually would get the full monthly check. It starts to phase out for people who make more than $80,000. Likewise, joint tax filers who make less than $150,000 would get the full check. At $160,000 for joint filers, the payment would phase out.

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Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.