California governor and lawmakers set $ 9.6 billion virus spending plan
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders on Wednesday announced a $ 9.6 billion spending deal to help some of the people hardest hit by the pandemic, with a new round of small business grants, $ 600 stimulus checks for income earners and more housing assistance for farm workers infected with the coronavirus.
The plan “will help those who suffer the most,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in a joint statement. “We are building an economic base for the recovery of jobs, small businesses and, indeed, our daily lives.”
Lawmakers plan to take the action quickly, with votes expected as early as Monday after the budget committee hearings starting Thursday.
About 5.7 million people who earn less than $ 30,000 per year would receive one-time payments. This includes people who the trio of Democratic leaders say have been unfairly excluded from previous federal stimulus payments under the administration of former Republican President Donald Trump.
Those receiving the $ 600 payments include households that received the California Income Tax Credit in 2020. This represents the stimulus package’s highest price, at $ 2.3 billion.
Immigrants and others who do not have a Social Security number but have an individual tax identification number, income less than $ 75,000 and who were not eligible for recent federal payments would get $ 600 – raised to $ 1,200 if they also qualify for the California earned income tax credit.
The deal expands Newsom’s original proposal last month for a Golden State Stimulus plan by also providing $ 600 to households in the CalWORKS public assistance program, which would receive the money by mid-April.
It also now includes those who are eligible for Supplementary Security Income / State Supplementary Payment for those 65 years of age or older, blind or disabled, as well as those who participate in the Immigrant Cash Assistance Program. . The schedule for these payments is being worked out with federal officials.
For small businesses affected by the pandemic, the package quadruples to over $ 2 billion available for grants of up to $ 25,000. It separately includes $ 50 million to help cultural institutions.
In January, as part of its budget proposal, Newsom recommended adding an additional $ 500 million to the program.
But some lawmakers from both political parties thought it was too small, given the high demand for the program, and more than half of the 120 members of the legislature signed a proposal to earmark $ 2.6 billion. from California’s unexpected income dollars to one-time grants for small businesses and nonprofits.
“This path to victory proves that when lawmakers cross the aisle and work together on our most pressing needs, we can get things done,” said GOP Senator Andreas Borgeas, who helped organize the call for legislators for more money.
Newsom initially used its emergency powers in December to create the California Relief Grant program, promising grants of up to $ 25,000 to small businesses and nonprofits.
The state quickly received more than 334,000 applications requesting nearly $ 4.4 billion in grants, but approved 21,000 applicants, or just over 6% of those who applied. More than half went to minority-owned businesses.
Also under the new plan, more than 750,000 small businesses could deduct up to $ 150,000 from their state taxes in loans they received under the Paycheck Protection Plan. The same cap would also apply to businesses that received economic disaster loans, amounting to a total of $ 2 billion in tax cuts.
About 59,000 restaurants and bars would separately get two years of waived annual license fees ranging from $ 455 to $ 1,235. More than 600,000 individuals and businesses in barbers and cosmetology will also be able to retain their usual license rights for two years.
“People are hungry and suffering, and businesses that our communities have loved for decades are at risk of shutting down,” Senate pro Tempore Toni Atkins said in welcoming the agreement.
The publicly funded child care and preschool services, which collectively serve about 400,000 children, will receive $ 525 per child out of $ 400 million in federal funds. The federal program also expands and expands subsidized child care services for essential workers through June 2022.
Low-income community college students carrying six or more class units would share an additional $ 100 million in emergency financial assistance.
And the package includes $ 20 million to retain or re-enroll community college students stricken by the pandemic, and $ 6 million to help students at the University of California, California State University and California Community College who are now eligible for CalFresh, which provides additional food assistance.
Finally, it includes a new $ 24 million for a program that puts agricultural and food processing workers in hotels if they contract the virus and have nowhere to self-isolate, Newsom said earlier. during the day as he spoke at a community vaccination clinic in Coachella. Valley, an area that is home to many farm workers.
“It has frankly been underutilized, and we recognize it,” Newsom said of the farm worker housing program. “And the goal of this new ownership is to maximize its effectiveness.”
The governor’s visit to the Coachella Valley was his final stop on a tour of the state to highlight vaccination efforts as the virus count in California continues to improve. The state’s test positivity rate, hospitalizations and deaths are all down, and the rate of people passing the virus on to others is now at its lowest in months.
California has now administered more than 6 million vaccines, but rollout has been slow and difficult and demand continues to far outstrip supply. The state is shifting to a new distribution system run by insurer Blue Shield, which will take some decision-making power away from counties.
Associated Press reporter Amy Taxin in Orange County and Adam Beam in Sacramento contributed.
Californians can find out if they are eligible for the vaccine at https://myturn.ca.gov/ or by calling 1-833-422-4255.