Newsom and Lawmakers Agree on $600 Stimulus Checks For Low-Wage Workers

Democratic leaders are rushing approval to the $9.6 billion “Golden State Stimulus” which extends to workers, businesses, courts and colleges.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a coronavirus press briefing on Dec. 28, 2020.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Nearly six million Californians could receive $600 stimulus checks from the state under a pandemic relief package announced Wednesday that also includes $2 billion for restaurants and other struggling small businesses.

Along with one-time relief for low-income families, the deal between Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders calls for new business grants, tax breaks and budget boosts for state courts and universities.

“From child care, relief for small business owners, direct cash support to individuals, financial aid for community college students and more, these actions are critical for millions of Californians who embody the resilience of the California spirit,” Newsom said of the $9.6 billion package in a statement.

The sweeping Covid-19 stimulus plan will be introduced and voted on in the Legislature in piecemeal fashion as early as next week, but leaders of the state Senate and Assembly have already signed on.

With the pandemic approaching the one year mark, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins said the state must act to keep people in their homes and businesses in operation.

“People are hungry and hurting, and businesses our communities have loved for decades are at risk of closing their doors. We are at a critical moment, and I’m proud we were able to come together to get Californians some needed relief,” said Atkins, D-San Diego.

The deal builds on a proposal Newsom coined the “Golden State Stimulus”  in January and is centered around direct payments to residents, including those undocumented, that paid taxes and earned less than $30,000.

Proponents say the agreement could extend relief to 5.7 million people and that it will include additional $600 grants for families already receiving public assistance. Those enrolled in the state’s welfare program for blind and disabled-undocumented residents will also qualify for the $600 grant.

The payments will be administered on top of previous and pending aid in Congress.

If approved, courts and colleges will also see a boost after being forced to take cuts in the current budget. While full details are still pending, a review from the governor’s office notes “The agreement restores previously enacted reductions, effective July 1st, for the University of California, California State University, the Judicial Branch, Child Support Services and for moderate-income housing.”

After a promising January 2020 proposal, Newsom’s May revised budget dealt a devastating blow to the entire branch with a 10% baseline funding cut.

The package also quadruples the amount of business relief available in a plan that launched in December, from $500 million to $2 billion. Newsom, Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon also want to allow businesses the ability to deduct up to $150,000 in loans secured from the federal Paycheck Protection Plan in their upcoming taxes, as well as give the state’s restaurants and cosmetology businesses relief from licensing fees.

“Our response tackles the human and the economic impacts of Covid in a way that echoes President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and will help those who are hurting most. We are building an economic foundation for the recovery of jobs, small businesses and, indeed, our everyday lives,” said Rendon.

Nancy Drabble, CEO of Consumer Attorneys of California, said in a statement that the group was happy with the decision.

“We applaud the Governor and legislative leaders for taking decisive action to restore badly-needed funding to a judicial system that has struggled to overcome serious case backlogs amid the battle to slow the spread of Covid-19.”

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