Newsom Offers Plans to Send $600 to Millions, Extend Renter Protections

FILE – In this June 9, 2020, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom wears a protective mask on his face while speaking to reporters at Miss Ollie’s restaurant during the coronavirus outbreak in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, Pool, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — Low-income Californians hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic would receive $600 checks from the state as well as added eviction protections under a plan announced Wednesday by Governor Gavin Newsom.

The Democratic governor will officially unveil the self-titled “Golden State Stimulus” as part of his 2021-22 budget plan Friday. If he gets his way and the plan is quickly approved by lawmakers, Newsom says the stimulus checks could go out to the state’s poorest households as soon as next month.

“Through the Golden State Stimulus, Californians who have been impacted by this pandemic will get help to provide for their families and keep a roof over their heads,” said Newsom in a statement. “This plan will provide relief for Californians in need by distributing $600 rapid cash support — for some, at least $1,200 when coupled with federal relief — and extend the eviction moratorium.” 

According to a preview of the plan issued by the governor’s office, residents that made less than $30,000 in 2019 and received benefits under the California Earned Income Tax Credit program would get the pandemic relief. The benefits would extend to nearly 4 million people who filed taxes with the state, including those undocumented.

While budget negotiations typically run through June, Newsom will push the Democratic-controlled Legislature to act quickly on the state stimulus which essentially amounts to a tax refund. 

Newsom is also eyeing new relief for struggling renters and wants to extend the existing evictions moratorium set to expire at the end of the month. The plan doesn’t identify a new sunset date, but Newsom’s office says renters paying at least 25% of their monthly rent will continue to be protected from eviction.

This past August, lawmakers and Newsom approved the statewide moratorium, arguing it was necessary to ward off a pending wave of evictions and foreclosures. Under Assembly Bill 3088, landlords are barred from evicting tenants that have submitted documents showing they have experienced pandemic-related financial distress.

In addition to the extension, the governor wants to earmark $2.6 billion from California’s take of Congress’ latest batch of pandemic relief for low-income renters and small property owners.

Legislative leaders gave Newsom’s plan a warm reception, saying in a joint statement they are eager to “review and build” on the governor’s call for relief.

“California’s low-wage workers, renters, and ‘mom-and-pop landlords have been hit particularly hard by the economic crisis created by Covid-19 — the Legislature passed bills last year to help those Californians, and we will again take swift and bold actions to assist them now,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

Californians already receiving federal unemployment relief recently approved by Congress could stand to receive $1,200 in total under Newsom’s plan. Meanwhile workers not already receiving the earned income tax credit but will be eligible in 2021 would receive the $600 boost after they file their 2020 state taxes.

According to Newsom’s office, almost 3.9 million people filed for the tax credit in 2019. The program paid out over $1.1 billion.

Though Newsom will release his 2021-22 budget proposal Friday, he’s already revealed several key pandemic-related proposals.

Frustrated with the pace of the state’s Covid-19 vaccination effort, Newsom said Monday he will press for $300 million to increase storage, distribution and a public awareness campaign. He then unveiled a $4.5 billion economic recovery plan that includes $1.5 billion for clean energy transportation, $575 million for small businesses and nearly $800 million toward job creation. 

While last year’s budget assumed a record $54 billion deficit, recent tax collections have come in ahead of pace. Analysts predict Newsom and lawmakers could have a $26 billion windfall to divvy up in the next budget.

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