CA Legislators Will Return To Flurry of Major Pandemic Response Votes

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

California legislators who return to work Monday will quickly be asked to vote on a flurry of high-profile spending measures to confront the worsening toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the top of their agenda: find a way to reopen schools for millions of students who have been out of the classroom since March, provide cash payments to low-income families, distribute COVID-19 vaccines more quickly, and extend an eviction moratorium.

Ostensibly, legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom agree on the broad strokes of the budget proposal he released Friday, which includes a $5 billion “immediate action” plan he wants approved within weeks.

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Cash payments: Newsom is pushing lawmakers to swiftly approve one-time $600 direct payments to low-income people, an effort designed in part to help keep families housed. The payments would cost $2.4 billion.

Checks would be sent to taxpayers who received the state’s earned income tax credit for the working poor, typically those who earn $30,000 or less. Newsom said payments could go out within weeks.

Assembly member Phil Ting, the San Francisco Democrat who chairs the budget committee, said there’s broad support for such payments.

“If we don’t do it now, we run the risk of having a greater catastrophe down the road,” Ting said. “A little bit of money today will help significantly tomorrow.”

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