Gavin Newsom Coming To Pay Your Rent
California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a new round of state stimulus funding Monday, as part of his $100 billion "California Comeback Plan." The plan would give two-thirds of Californians a $600 direct cash payment, in the form of a tax rebate, and qualifying families with dependents would also get an extra $500. This being California, separate $500 payments will be available to undocumented families, just to grind rightwingers' gears. In addition, Newsom announced his plans for one of the most generous renter assistance plans we've heard of, which will keep people in their homes and even pay their back rent and utility bills.
Here's Newsom announcing the plan, which is possible in part because the state ran a record budget surplus of $75.7 billion.
Last year, the state had projected the surplus would be around $54.3 billion, so Newsom was fairly pleased with the "remarkable turn-around."
Newsom said the $12 billion in "Golden State Stimulus" checks would go to "just shy of 80% of all tax filers, [who] will get a direct stimulus check, will get a direct relief payment because of this announcement."
The program is actually an expansion of last year's state relief program, which was limited to about four million lower-income families. In this round, families earning up to $75,000 a year would be eligible for the payments — but only if they didn't receive a check the first time around, which is going to bum out some people who could really use it.
Sacramento station KXTV noted that some $1 billion in payments from the first round of Golden State Stimulus money last year has still not been claimed, with " some people perhaps unaware that they are eligible for the $600 direct cash payments." No doubt the announcement of the new round of checks will lead a lot of people who qualified the first time around to seek out the payments.
Since the payments are in the form of a tax rebate, people will need to file their state income taxes to receive it.
In addition to the direct payments, Newsom outlined a $5 billion plan for rent relief, which his office is touting as the "largest renter assistance package of any state" in the country. It's aimed at helping
low-income Californians pay back 100 percent of their back-rent, their rent for the months to come, and overdue water and utility bills.
That's just plain fabulous, keeping people in their homes and helping landlords too. And the news comes just in time, too, since California's state eviction moratorium will expire at the end of June; the state legislature may or may not vote to extend it. Newsom's new plan expands significantly on an existing program that paid 80 percent of back rent and required landlords to forgive the rest. At the presser Monday, Newsom said,
We recognize the acuity of stress associated with back rent, and we recognize the acuity of stress as it relates to gas water and electric bills. [...] We think it's really important to send a powerful message today about the importance of being able to find relief and access these critical funds so we can keep people housed, we can keep people warm, safe and make sure they are getting the kinds of resources they deserve during this very challenging period of time.
The Sacramento Bee reports the expansion of rent assistance was immediately applauded by both housing advocates and the state's landlord associations. Tom Bannon, the head honcho of the California Apartment Association, said the news was welcome all around:
Many of our members have provided housing for more than a year without compensation. We thank the governor for understanding the difficulties that both tenants and rental property owners have endured during the pandemic.
We're sure someone will show up on Fox News to complain that the terrific news for both renters and landlords will somehow encourage indolence and moral corruption during a global pandemic. Maybe that Republican guy with the rented bear who's running against Newsom in the recall election. Nobody's helping him with his publicity stunt rent, after all.
Hey, what else is in Newsom's overall "California Comeback Plan"? The details will be rolled out through Friday, but so far, Newsom's office has announced several other parts:
- $5.1 billion for water infrastructure and drought response, plus another billion to help Californians pay past due water bills.
- $12 billion to address homelessness, including placing 65,000 people into housing, helping 300,000 people with housing stability, and creating 46,000 new affordable housing units, along with an emphasis on getting immediate help to people with behavior health needs and to seniors at risk of becoming homeless.
- Adding 100,000 new slots in the state's child-care programs.
- Funding the state's schools so they can all provide in-person classes in the fall.
And probably more stuff too, because it's only Wednesday.
The New York Times explains why California suddenly found itself with a surprise budget surplus. Unlike other states that depend primarily on sales or property taxes, California gets most of its revenue from income taxes, and the very rich pay a hell of a lot in state income taxes. Roughly half the state's personal income tax is paid by the top one percent, but don't expect us to start praising wealth inequality, OK?
That does at least mean that the state will benefit from one aspect of the upfuckedness of the COVID economy:
Wealthy Californians, by and large, haven't stopped making money during the pandemic. They have benefited from a soaring stock market and an I.P.O. boom. And they have mostly been able to work from home, while lower-income Californians have picked food, stocked grocery store shelves and delivered packages shipped by more Californians laboring in enormous warehouses.
So by all means, spread the damn wealth, Gov. Newsom!
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.