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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

“This doesn’t cover all of the relief they have been excluded from and we are creating inequality as a result,” California Immigrant Policy Center manager Sasha Feldstein told lawmakers during a budget hearing.

She noted that an immigrant household with two ITIN-filer parents and two children would be eligible for a maximum of $1,200 in state stimulus, which is about 21% of the federal relief they’ve been excluded from.

“More is needed to protect thousands of undocumented workers left out,” added Fanelly Millán, an organizer for the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center.

The relief package approved by the governor and Legislature also provides $2.1 billion in grants from $5,000 to $25,000, a program administered by California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate.

“This will assist qualified small businesses who have been devastated economically by the COVID pandemic,” said state Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Salinas), who authored the grant bill. “As we know, small businesses throughout the state have continued to struggle to survive during the stay-at-home orders.”

She cited a recent survey by the advocacy group Small Business Majority that found 35% of small businesses were three months from closing if they do not get additional financial help.

 

Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) said during Monday’s floor debate that the relief bill would not have needed to be as large as it was if the state had not forced businesses to close for so long.

“This governor arbitrarily and unilaterally decided to shut down mostly small business in this state and as a result many small businesses have already gone out of business,” Gallagher told his colleagues before he joined the bipartisan vote to support the business grants bill.

The Legislature’s approval of the grant money comes a few months after Newsom launched the program with an executive order that provided $500 million in grant money for 21,000 small businesses.

But the demand for the grants is greater than the money available. In the first round of grant awards, 350,000 small businesses filed applications, seeking more than $4.5 billion, officials said.

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