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Newsom wants tax rebate, touts ‘California Way’ of governing

Newsom, a Democrat who handily beat back a mid-term recall campaign last year, also touted his administration’s progress on homelessness, the economy, education and climate change in a speech to assembled lawmakers in an auditorium near the state Capitol. By contrast, last year’s speech — given mid-pandemic — was delivered outdoors in an empty Dodger Stadium, which was being used as a mass-testing site.

This year, coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations are plummeting and the nation’s attention is drawn to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the accompanying spiraling gas prices. Republicans nationally and in California want to see the Biden administration increase drilling. Newsom rejected that call.

“Drilling even more oil,” he said, “only leads to even more extreme weather, more extreme drought, more wildfire.”

“We need to be fighting polluters, not bolstering them,” Newsom said. “And in the process of so doing, freeing us once and for all from the grasp of petro-dictators.”

As he did throughout the speech, Newsom offered “California’s leadership” as the alternative, calling clean energy “this generation’s greatest economic opportunity.”

California is one of the nation’s most oil-rich states and Republicans, who are a small minority in the Legislature and hold no statewide offices, see high gas prices as an election year issue they can exploit. California taxes gasoline at 51.1 cents per gallon, second only to Pennsylvania, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators.

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