The Center Square contributor |
(The Center Square) – California has $100 billion to play with and Gov. Gavin Newsom, months away from a recall election, would like to send billions of that extra money out in the form of direct payments to most residents.
At a cost of $12 billion, the administration proposes sending $600 stimulus checks to an estimated two-thirds of the state’s residents. Californians making more than $75,000 wouldn’t qualify. Taxpayers with qualified dependents would receive the additional $500.
“California’s recovery is well underway, but we can’t be satisfied with simply going back to the way things were,” Newsom said. “We are tripling the Golden State Stimulus to get money in the hands of more middle-class Californians who have been hit hard by this pandemic.”
Newsom said more than $5 billion in aid would be made available to those who need help paying their rent or utility bills. That’s double what the state previously offered.
The governor is scheduled to announce his budget Friday. The stimulus needs legislative approval.
Newsom announced California is projecting a one-time operating surplus of $75.7 billion. That’s separate from the anticipated $26 billion in federal aid. The unexpected tax revenue largely comes from high-income workers staying on the job throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by working from home. The state’s progressive income tax relies heavily on high-income workers.
The state gave more than 5 million residents one-time $600 checks earlier this year under the “Golden State Stimulus” that Newsom signed in February. Recipients were limited to low-income taxpayers eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and undocumented taxpayers.
In a Mother’s Day video Sunday, Newsom proposed 100,000 more state-funded child care positions in addition to more spending on child care providers and home health care workers.
The series of announcements come months before Newsom faces a recall election fueled by resentment toward the administration’s COVID-19 executive orders that saw Californians under more stringent measures than many other states.
Newsom also announced Friday the formation of a task force to explore reparations for Black Californians.
Republicans have criticized Newsom for spending the budget surplus instead of paying down the estimated $167 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. As estimated by pensiontracker.org, California’s total state and local pension debt top $1 trillion when estimated at market value.
Cole Lauterbach is a regional editor for The Center Square covering Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. For more than a decade, Cole has produced award-winning content on both radio and television.
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