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California legislators approve $7.6B COVID-19 package, including $600 stimulus checks

Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Californians who qualify for a $600 state stimulus payment could see the money arrive as soon as a month after filing their tax returns under a $7.6-billion COVID-19 economic relief package approved Monday by the state Legislature.

Crafted by Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders last week, the pandemic assistance plan also includes more than $2.1 billion in grants and fee waivers for small businesses. Those companies can soon apply for the grants, followed by an approval process that state officials estimate would take 45 days.

Another $2 billion in tax breaks for businesses is expected to be acted on by the Legislature later this week, which would bring the total package to $9.6 billion.

The stimulus assistance for residents earning $30,000 a year or less will come much quicker — four to five weeks on average after they file 2020 tax returns with the state Franchise Tax Board if they also sign up for direct deposit, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the California Department of Finance. The wait could last as long as seven weeks for those receiving the $600 in a check from the state.

“This is such an important bill because it gives millions of hardworking Californians instant money that they so desperately need during this tough time, during this pandemic,” Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said on Monday during the floor debate before the Legislature passed a half-dozen bills that make up the economic relief package. Newsom said he hoped to sign the measures on Tuesday.

Some 5.7 million payments totaling $2.3 billion will go to low-income Californians under the Golden State Stimulus program, which is aimed at helping those in the most dire financial straits, according to state Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley).

 

“Our lower-wage workers have been disproportionately impacted,” said Skinner, chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee.

The COVID-19 relief package was made possible by higher-than-expected tax revenues in California despite the economic hardships brought on by the pandemic.

Some 3.8 million of the payments will go to households that qualified for the state earned income tax credit for 2020, which is available to residents earning less than $30,000 annually.

About 565,000 stimulus payments will go to those with individual tax identification numbers who did not receive federal stimulus payments and whose income is below $75,000, many of whom are immigrants in the country illegally. Taxpayers with individual identification numbers who also qualify for California’s state earned income tax credit would receive a total of $1,200 in state stimulus.

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