Some say California gas rebate plan doesn't address long-term issues

Governor Gavin Newsom is proposing an $11 billion relief package to give Californians relief from high gas prices. His plan includes rebates and free public transit.

Many people said they would like the extra money in their pockets but question if the proposal is the answer.

Governor Newsom said his proposal includes $9 billion in direct payments to millions of Californians. 

"That direct relief will address what we're all struggling with and that's the issue of gas prices," said Newsom. 

The tax refund would give each registered car owner a $400 rebate per vehicle.

Each person can only receive rebates for a maximum of two vehicles.      

Eligibility will be based on vehicle registration and not income.

"Unfortunately, it's just not a very effective way to target help to the people who really need it," said Asha Weinstein Agrawal, professor of urban and regional with San Jose State University. 

She said high gas prices attract a lot of attention, but they are not the key cause of financial hardship for many people. 

Food and housing prices play major roles.

"We need to help people with very low incomes who are really struggling right now.  The most effective way to do that is not to tie rebates or checks to vehicle ownership," said Agrawal. 

Vehicle owners have mixed reaction to the Governor Newsom's proposal.

"How much is that going to help, $400? Something is better than nothing.  We do appreciate that he's thinking about the average person," said Todd Mentillo of San Jose.

"It's easy to write checks. It's an easy political answer, but it's not always the most sound answer," said Joseph Ferguson of Stanford,"It's a short term Band-Aid.  It doesn't address the long term issues." 

"Any relief we can get as a Californian I think would be helpful," said Carol Haddaway of Menlo Park. 

The proposal would also provide $750 million for free public transportation for three months.

MORE: California gas rebate: Drivers could get up to $800 under proposal

Professor Agrawal said the focus should be on long term solutions such as programs to help people buy fuel efficient and electric vehicles,

"If we really want to help people with transportation costs over time, we have to move away from gas guzzling vehicles."  

The governor's office says it will be negotiating the details of this proposal with the legislature in the coming days.

If approved, the first payments could begin as soon as July. 

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU or Twitter @AmberKTVU