New California Bill Will Pay Residents $1,000 for Not Owning a Car

For California, less cars and public transit equals less emissions. Except the state is known for its lousy public transit.

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Image for article titled New California Bill Will Pay Residents $1,000 for Not Owning a Car
Image: Damian Dovarganes (AP)

California state officials are doing everything they can to bring down the state’s emissions, even though the grid isn’t quite up to the task of handling all those EVs. On Wednesday, state officials took things a step further and passing a bill that would give a tax credit to income-challenged residents who don’t own cars, the Washington Post reports.

The bill essentially incentivizes not owning a vehicle, by providing a $1,000 tax credit for single filers making up to $40,000 per year; $60,000 for joint filers. While it looks good on paper for residents, it doesn’t come across that way once you hear that this incentive is a very scaled-back version of what was originally proposed.

Originally, the bill was supposed to give $2,500 to all residents, and there was no income cap. Even those that had fewer cars than household members would be eligible for the tax break. But like all things political, compromises had to be made, and some lawmakers consider what was passed a win. Some even go so far as to assume that an extra grand in residents pockets eventually be used for local transit, like LA’s Metro.

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Also, like all things political, not everyone is happy. Residents have taken to sites like Reddit to complain. One LA resident said they appreciate the effort, but giving people money for not having a vehicle is a basically a wash when a lot of transit systems here aren’t even good. And there are other factors at play, like high housing costs that force people to commute longer distances than California public transit can handle.

I absolutely disdain the car dependent culture of the US, but how exactly is giving people money going to fix this problem? Our current public transit systems are not good enough to support a full transition away from car dependency. That plus the fact that people commute from so far away due to housing prices means that just handing people $1k, $2.5, or any other amount of money wouldn’t do much at all to get cars off the road. Please, explain to me if I’m wrong, but I’d much rather they take that money and invest it in better public transit instead of just throwing it at people and expecting them to stop driving for some reason.