Good morning, California. It’s Tuesday, July 28.
Democrats unveil $100 billion plan
State lawmakers have just five weeks to come up with solutions to massive pandemic-related problems and prevent Californians of all stripes — tenants, landlords, small-business owners, essential workers — from falling off the edge of a cliff.
Will they be able to do it before the legislative session ends on Aug. 31?
Top Democratic lawmakers took a stab at it Monday, releasing an ambitious — and sparsely detailed — $100 billion stimulus plan that would provide extra unemployment benefits, expand tax credits for low-income and undocumented workers, protect renters from evictions, and help struggling landlords and small businesses, while also creating environmentally friendly jobs.
- Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Lakewood Democrat: “Millions of Californians are suffering in this economic downturn, and Republicans in Washington, D.C., don’t seem to care. Assembly and Senate Democrats are advancing innovative proposals to help people and small businesses.”
- California Senate Republican Caucus: “These summaries are broad strokes and some may sound appealing — but when it comes to California Democrats’ proposals, the devil is always in the details.”
The plan proposes raising $100 billion — nearly half of this year’s budget — by encouraging Californians to pre-pay their income taxes in exchange for future vouchers, borrowing money from the federal government and “accelerating” other sources of revenue.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said he hadn’t looked at the plan “in any detail” but said it’s “foundational” to “include a framework of bringing people along as we reopen our economy.”
Newsom was also evasive on whether he would call a special session that would give lawmakers time after Aug. 31 to debate and pass bills.
Also on lawmakers’ plates are a series of police-reform proposals — including banning tear gas and carotid neck holds, limiting the use of rubber bullets amid protests, permitting independent investigations of police use-of-force and decertifying officers fired for misconduct — and hot-topic health care bills, among others.
The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Monday night, California had 460,550 confirmed coronavirus cases and 8,445 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.
Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.
Other stories you should know
1. Newsom homes in on Central Valley as new coronavirus hot spot
Newsom on Monday announced plans to infuse $52 million in federal funding into the Central Valley, a burgeoning coronavirus hot spot where in some areas residents are testing positive at a rate of nearly 18%, compared to 7.5% statewide, CalMatters’ Ana Ibarra reports. The money will be used to ratchet up hospital staffing, testing and contact tracing in the eight-county region, where Latino and immigrant farmworkers are testing positive for and dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates. The state will also send three “strike teams” into the Central Valley to investigate outbreaks, reduce transmission and ensure worker protections are in place.
- The news came as a surprise to at least one county. Deputy Royjindar Singh, a spokesperson for Stanislaus County: “We have no knowledge about it. … Sometimes the governor makes announcements and he identifies our county specifically … but it’s a surprise to us.”
2. Newsom withholds federal aid from two Central Valley cities
Even as Newsom extended aid to the Central Valley, he withheld federal coronavirus relief funds from two of its small cities — Atwater and Coalinga — for not complying with state public health rules, the Los Angeles Times reports. Newsom’s administration on Friday sent both cities letters saying they would need to rescind “sanctuary” city resolutions allowing all businesses to remain open amid the pandemic in order to receive the funding. But local officials aren’t about to back down.
- Atwater Mayor Paul Creighton: “It’s just a bullying tactic. … Here’s the governor taking federal money and using it to extort us. … What’s the goal here? You don’t see him going after Orange County.”
- Brian Ferguson of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services: “The state remains optimistic that these cities will do what is right to protect public health and safety in their communities.”
3. California child care providers unionize in historic vote
In the nation’s largest current unionization effort, 45,000 California home-based child care providers serving state-subsidized children announced Monday their overwhelming vote to unionize, allowing them to collectively bargain with the state for higher pay and better training. The move has massive implications for providers — many of whom are women of color, earn as little as $5.56 an hour and face increased costs amid the pandemic — as well as for families, for whom many child care is already prohibitively expensive. The vote to unionize with Child Care Providers United comes a year after Newsom signed a bill allowing providers to collectively bargain — itself the product of nearly two decades of lobbying and legislative efforts.
- Nancy Harvey, an Oakland provider: “California can afford to pay providers more and dedicate more resources to increase access for low-income children — even in this economic crisis. … We’re the fifth-largest economy in the world and the billionaires in this state have have increased their wealth by nearly $200 billion just since the pandemic began.”
4. State launches “Vote Safe California” campaign
No, that email you got yesterday from the Secretary of State wasn’t spam.
With less than 100 days to go before Election Day, California’s top election official Alex Padilla sent a message to millions of registered voters asking them “to double-check their voter registration” — and soon enough #VoteCalifornia was trending on Twitter.
What’s the rush? To keep the November election as socially distanced as possible, California counties will be sending mail-in ballots to all registered voters. Those ballots go out in early October, but counties begin cobbling together their lists a month earlier.
- Sam Mahood, Padilla’s press secretary: “To make that as effective as possible we need to make sure everyone has an up-to-date voter registration … Do not wait. Prepare now.”
Counties have rejected 1.7% of vote-by-mail ballots since 2010, primarily because they were sent in late, didn’t include a signature or the signature didn’t match, according to preliminary findings released Monday from a study conducted by the California Voter Foundation and USC’s Center for Inclusive Democracy.
California teachers, parents and guardians: We want to hear your plans, questions and concerns about remote learning. Your feedback and comments will shape a virtual event we’re planning. Share your thoughts here.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: California’s attorneys general are empowered to write official titles for statewide ballot measures, but the current AG, Xavier Becerra, continues the practice of providing slanted and partisan summaries.
Prioritizing racial justice in health care: All health care providers must do more to address racial disparities in health outcomes and life expectancy, argue Sarah Krevans and Stephen Lockhart of Sutter Health.
Resident physicians deserve employment rights: We urge lawmakers to pass Assembly Bill 2114, which would extend due process protections to interns, resident physicians and fellows in the University of California system, writes Anna Yap, an emergency medicine resident physician in Los Angeles.
Other things worth your time
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is investigating Amazon’s warehouse safety protocols amid the pandemic. // Bloomberg
Google extends work-from-home policy through June 2021 as cases surge. // San Francisco Chronicle
Protesters chain themselves to Newsom’s home as prison deaths mount. // Associated Press
These California moms were never going to send their kids to school in a pandemic. Here’s why. // Sacramento Bee
Outdoor religious gatherings draw rebukes from health officials. // Los Angeles Times
Oakland city officials announce legislation to prevent President Trump from sending federal agents to city. // Mercury News
Allegations of racist slurs and “blood money” mark new low in battle between Los Angeles sheriff and county supervisors. // Los Angeles Times
Elon Musk on, well, everything. // New York Times
See you tomorrow.
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