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California is expanding its Golden State Stimulus program for low-income households to middle-class families. Under a new budget that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Monday night, state lawmakers agreed to spend $8.1 billion to help out millions of working families. That comes on top of $3.8 billion sent out earlier this year to low-income families, including undocumented workers, bringing the total package to $11.9 billion — unprecedented for any state.

What does that mean for you?

Generally, households earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income will qualify for some state stimulus. The governor says it should cover 78% of California taxpayers and will benefit two in three Californians.

Families with at least one child or other dependent will get an extra boost. And undocumented workers will get an assist too since they were excluded from recent federal stimulus packages.

The administration has clarified that only Californians with earned income from work in 2020 can qualify for the Golden State Stimulus payments, leaving out elderly and disabled people who only receive income from programs like social security benefits, private pensions or veterans benefits. This has sparked confusion and frustration among that population — especially people receiving disability benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance, who were excluded from the payments while other disabled Californians on Supplemental Security Income were included through a special $600 grant in the first round of payments.

State officials stress the need to file your taxes to get your California stimulus — you won’t get a check without it.

The state tax agency plans to send out the second round of payments in September.

The Legislature approved a record $262.6 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that began July 1. It was fueled by a $76 billion state surplus and $27 billion in federal aid. 

In addition to expanded stimulus checks, California committed to increasing health care for undocumented immigrants, spending billions to alleviate homelessness and helping renters still struggling through the pandemic. 

This article is part of The California Divide, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequity and economic survival in California.

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Erica is a data reporter at CalMatters helping develop data-driven graphics and tools. As a California native, she is excited to contribute to important coverage of state issues through engaging projects....

Frida Qi is a data intern at CalMatters. She has passion in data-driven stories, investigative stories, mental health reporting and cryptocurrency reporting. She previously interned or worked part-time...

Jackie covers income inequity and economic survival for the The California Divide collaboration. She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting in 2021 for a Reuters data-driven investigative...