“The Issue Is”: How to fix gas prices and the Academy Awards

Gas prices may have hit their peak nationally, with prices down two cents from a week ago. But here in California, relief at the pump appears far off, prices now averaging $5.91 per gallon, with counties like Los Angeles and Orange seeing prices top $6.00 for the first time in history.

Meanwhile, the debate rages in Sacramento over how state lawmakers can offer some relief. First, the Republican proposal of immediately suspending the state’s $0.51/gallon gas tax was quickly killed in the Democratically-controlled House.

Now Governor Newsom and top CA Democrats have proposed dueling rebate proposals, although there are still negotiations to be had on how much money to refund, who would qualify, and when the money would be made available.

To continue that discussion, Elex Michaelson is joined this week on "The Issue Is" by State Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R) and CalMatters journalist Alexei Koseff.

Michaelson is also joined by Variety’s Elizabeth Wagmeister. Their discussion focused on Sunday’s Academy Awards, which comes amid waning interest in the ceremony and a seismic shift in the film industry as streaming becomes more and more dominant.



KILEY’S CENTRAL TAKE: "My bill, which would suspend the gas tax entirely, doesn't cause any loss of funding for roads - that money would be backfilled out of the state's general fund, and we're said to have a $45 billion, maybe as high as $60 billion surplus right now.... We simply suspend the state gas tax and that is the quickest, most meaningful, and simplest thing that we could do right now. It's a lever that we, as a legislature, and the Governor control. People would immediately see a reduction of about 50 cents in the price of gas. That's not going to make gas prices reasonable by any stretch of the imagination, but would help out a lot of folks in a meaningful way, and it's something that we could do immediately, so it really is mind boggling that our Legislature and our governor are refusing to do that, when you have Red and Blue states across the country that are doing precisely that, cutting their state's much lower gas taxes…"

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KOSEFF’S CENTRAL TAKE: "The reality is is that we're still in the very early stages, there are not even real conversations that are happening yet between the Legislature and the Governor, and so what you're seeing is everybody sort of laying out the stakes of what it is they want and a little bit of back-and-forth that's happening through the press about where there might be details where they could come to a compromise.. I think this is the fundamental question that's going to need to be solved is who gets the money and how do you get it to them? Because the reality is they're going to be wanting to give that money to the people who need it most - if a bunch of the money ends up going to very wealthy people, you know millionaires, it's just going to come back at [Democrats] as an attack ad…"



WAGMEISTER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "There is definitely a watchability problem... Last year, now let's also keep in mind it was during the pandemic and the rough part of the pandemic, but last year there was just over 10 million viewers. 10 million viewers for the biggest night in Hollywood. I mean, that's nothing. To put this into perspective, the year prior, just one year before that, there were over 23 million and that was a record low. This shows you the steep decline - more than 50% loss in viewership. But this year, I've got to tell you, the producers, they're really trying to amp up the entertainment value - they have Beyoncé performing, they have Billie Eilish, you have A-listers from Kristen Stewart to Will Smith, and you also have an award that's being voted on on Twitter... They clearly recognize this walkability issue and they're doing everything they can to excite viewers…"



WAGMEISTER’S CENTRAL TAKE: "You're living under a rock if you don't know that it's all about streaming. Of course streaming is really synonymous with Netflix, but of course, there's Amazon, there's Apple, there's Hulu and now every single major media conglomerate has their own streaming service, and they're really trying to strike big with it. Now, what's interesting is this year it's going to be a race to the finish between Netflix and Apple. Apple has a film called 'Coda,' which happens to be my favorite film of awards season, and Netflix, as you mentioned, 'Power of the Dog,' which leads the nomination with 12, that is right up there for Best Picture, so a lot of industry experts think it is neck-and-neck between those two, although some are predicting 'Belfast,' I don't think it's going to go to 'Belfast.' But what's interesting is Netflix has been campaigning like crazy for years - we all remember there was 'Roma' and there was 'The Irishman,' and they lost. They have not won Best Picture. No streaming service has. So the fact that it very possibly could go to Apple, this is going to be World War three in the hallways of Netflix…."


The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com

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