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California cuts rebates for rich on hybrid & electric vehicles
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SACRAMENTO  (AP) — State lawmakers and air quality officials are cutting back rebates on hybrids and electric cars because hundreds of Californians claim it is a subsidy for the rich who make over $500,000 a year.

Lawmakers and the California Air Resources Board are restricting the subsidies to Californians who make $250,000 as an individual or double that for a couple.

The Los Angeles Times ( reported Monday that the program as it has existed since 2010 has been criticized as a taxpayer handout to the wealthy.

Some critics say the new figure is still too high, and the rebates for higher income earners remain in place for hydrogen fuel cell cars.

Last year, state Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, the state Senate leader, had legislation sent to the governor that directed the state to put 1 million low- and no-emission vehicles on California roads by 2023.

The Air Resources Board recently agreed to increase the size of subsidies available to low-income residents, but the money must still be approved by the Legislature and is not expected to take effect for four to six months.

“Our policy objective here is to rapidly increase the percentage of zero-emission vehicles in the state,” said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, which oversees the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program.

The subsidies are paid with a surcharge on vehicle registration fees and part of the smog fee paid by California motorists.

The program has so far paid $242 million in rebates to 114,702 people who bought or leased electric or hybrid cars.