SACRAMENTO, California – California lawmakers cleared the way Monday for 5.7 million people to receive at least $ 600 in lump-sum payments, part of a state-size coronavirus aid package aimed at helping people with low income. income to cope with what they hope will be the last legs of the pandemic.
The state Legislature passed the bill by a wide margin Monday, moving faster than its counterparts in Congress who are also considering another round of stimulus checks for the nation.
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Gov. Gavin Newsom said he will sign it into law on Tuesday. People who are eligible for the money should receive it between 45 days and 60 days after receiving their state tax refunds, according to the Franchise Tax Board.
One of those people is Judy Jackson, a 75-year-old former teacher and cancer survivor who lives on about $ 1,000 a month from other government programs. Jackson said he would use some of the money to pay for a freezer he bought so that he could receive food at home and avoid going out to buy food during the pandemic.
“Most months I worry at the end of the month if the money will run out before the end of the month,” said Jackson, who said he is at higher risk for COVID-19 due to his age and a number of underlying problems . healthy conditions. “This will allow you to have a little more and maybe buy an ice cream once in a while.”
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The stimulus payments are part of a broader aid package that the state Legislature approved Monday worth $ 7.6 billion. It includes more than $ 2 billion in small business grants, exempts about $ 25.6 million in business fees for struggling restaurants and hair salons, and provides $ 30 million in aid for food banks and another $ 5 million for diaper banks.
The stimulus controls target fewer people than last year’s federal stimulus payments. Approximately $ 2.3 billion will go to those who claim and receive the California earned income tax credit. In general, these are people who make $ 30,000 a year or less.
Another $ 470 million will go to people who earn a maximum of $ 75,000 per year after deductions and use an individual taxpayer identification number to file their income taxes. They are mostly people who don’t have social security numbers, including immigrants.
Some people fit into both categories. In those cases, they will receive $ 1,200, not $ 600. The Democratic-controlled state Legislature did this because most of the people who file their taxes this way are immigrants who were not eligible for the federal stimulus checks that Congress passed. last year.
Approximately $ 993 million will go to people who receive assistance from state programs targeting low-income families, the elderly, the blind and the disabled.
California has the money to do this in part because the state, the most populous in the country with nearly 40 million residents, has many wealthy people who have been less affected by the pandemic and continue to pay taxes.
California lost 1.5 million jobs last year, mostly lower-wage workers in the hotel and restaurant industry. Meanwhile, employment among people making $ 60,000 a year or more increased last year as people switched to working from home.
The upshot is that California has an estimated one-time surplus of $ 15 billion to spend this year, a number that could grow even higher later this year once more people file their tax returns.
“We need to recognize that this pandemic has not affected all of us equally,” said State Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, a Democrat from Fresno.
California has some of the strictest coronavirus business rules in the country, banning indoor dining in much of the state and directing retailers to limit the number of people allowed inside their stores.
Last year, Newsom used his emergency authority to set aside $ 500 million for grants of up to $ 25,000 for small businesses affected by the pandemic. But in the first round of funding, the state received more than 334,000 applications totaling more than $ 4.4 billion in grants.
On Monday, the Legislature added another $ 2 billion to that program. Businesses that have between $ 1,000 and $ 2.5 million in revenue are eligible and must be open or at least have a plan to reopen when allowed.
Assemblyman Mike Gipson, a Carson Democrat, said small business owners in his district have been “praying for an answer.”
“This is the answer to your prayers,” he said.
But some Republicans, while voting on the bill, criticized Newsom for “the hurt and damage” he caused to businesses by ordering state shutdowns during the height of the pandemic.
“This bill didn’t have to be as big as it is today,” said Assemblyman James Gallagher, a Yuba City Republican. “This governor arbitrarily and unilaterally decided to shut down most of the small businesses in this state. As a result, many businesses have already closed and that should be everyone’s problem.”