New bill would create incentive to go carless in California – Streetsblog California

In a search to offer relief for high prices (and circumvent Gann’s limit), Governor Newsom floated the idea of ​​offering checks to car owners, and the legislature proposed a different way to provide some payments directly to taxpayers, but not based on car ownership.

Now Sen. Anthony Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) has found another way to provide relief to people who really need it – and it would help the state meet its climate goals. His bill, SB 457, would provide a tax credit to taxpayers who do not own a car. It’s a boost for the people who need it most – those who can’t afford a car – as well as an incentive for everyone to reduce their dependence on cars. .

“As the impacts of climate change are felt across our state, it’s time we made a stronger commitment to implementing sustainable modes of transportation,” Sen. Portantino said in a press release about the draft. law. “SB 457 is an important step towards that goal. We can invest in the future by providing financial incentives for Californians to switch vehicles to more sustainable options. »

The biggest contributor to greenhouse gases in California is transportation, much of which comes from single-occupant vehicles. California is investing a lot of money to help drivers switch to electric vehicles, through direct incentives for car buyers, building infrastructure, and tax breaks for electric car owners. But the Air Resources Board, which administers these programs, recognizes that all of these investments won’t be enough — that Californians will have to drive less, period.

Driving without a car in California can be difficult. Better public transport and safer cycling and walking infrastructure will be badly needed. But millions of Californians get by without owning a car, either because they can’t afford one or because they don’t want to burden the environment any further. This bill would reward people who live without a car or “light car” and encourage more people to do so.

SB 457 would create a tax credit of $2,500 for each household member sixteen or older above the number of vehicles registered in that household, beginning in January 2023. The bill would limit the total amount of the credit per household at $7,500.

The bill’s sponsor, Streets for All, says it’s fair to give tax breaks beyond those given to car owners. The group’s legislative counsel writes, “SB 457 is investing in the future by encouraging Californians to use public transportation, bicycles, scooters, walking, and other sustainable modes to get around.” Now is the time to support families who are choosing the safest and most sustainable option: not owning a vehicle at all.

SB 457 can be introduced at the end of the legislative session through what’s called a “vacuum and amend” process: by rewriting an existing bill on a different topic. In its previous version, the bill had already passed through several Senate committees and a vote in the Senate, and landed in the Assembly.

The rewritten SB 457 will again be assigned to an appropriate Assembly committee, and if passed by the Assembly, will go through the Senate committee process once more.

Christy J. Olson