Thursday, July 15, 2021
On Monday night, governor of the U.S. state of California Gavin Newsom signed a new US$262.6 billion budget bill for the state into law, with US$8.1 billion reserved for US$600 direct stimulus payments to Californians to aid in California’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill for the budget, SB 129, and the bill for the stimulus payments, SB 139, both passed both houses of the California Legislature for this fiscial year.
The payments, dubbed the Golden State Stimulus II, are set to be paid out to eligible California taxpaying residents beginning in September. To be eligible, residents must have filed a state tax return for last year, not be someone’s dependent, and must have earned no more than US$75 thousand in wages last year.
Eligible Californians would get a one-time payment of US$600, and households with dependents would receive an additional US$500. Around two-thirds of Californians are expected to get a stimulus payment, according to the governor’s office. Newsom initially proposed the payments in May to aid the state’s economic recovery, as part of his “California Comeback Plan”.
Californians who already received a stimulus payment earlier in the year are not eligible for this second payment. An additional payment of US$500 is still available for those who claimed dependents on their returns.
The budget also provides for US$5.2 billion in renters’ aid for low-income residents and landlords, which would pay for all rent left unpaid during the COVID-19 crisis, and cover rent for several coming months. Overdue water and utility payments would also be covered by US$2 billion in funding.
An additional US$1.5 billion was for grant money intended for small businesses, with US$120 million in tax credits for businesses willing to relocate to California.
California had a budget surplus of nearly US$76 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In signing SB 129, Newsom line-item vetoed Section 19.55 of the bill concerning US$2.58 billion in appropriations to various funds “on a technical basis”, citing in an explanation appropriations covered under the section were superseded by the budget. In California, a governor may approve a bill passed by the Legislature with specific items related to the budget rejected. The Legislature can override this line-item veto with a two-thirds vote of both the Assembly and the Senate.