SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — California is joining with other western states to request a collective $1 trillion lifeline from the federal government to fund essential first responders, health care needs and educational systems as states grapple with historic budget deficits because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he and the governors of Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado, along with the states’ legislative leaders, signed a letter asking congressional leaders for the emergency funding as the costs of managing the pandemic and huge outlays of unemployment benefits plunge states’ coffers into the red.
The lettter was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
“These are challenging times and they require a collaborative spirit. They require a level of cooperation that led to a conversation with our western governors and our western pact. We decided it would be best if we go together and advance our needs and put to light — and put into writing — our hope and expectation of support from the federal government,” Newsom said.
Newsom said since March, 4.5 million Californians have filed for unemployment, and the state has paid out a record $13.1 billion in unemployment benefits. California is facing a $54.3 billion budget deficit because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the state was projected to have a surplus of $21 billion.
“You’re seeing numbers come in, in states large and small, the impact in the general funds to their budgets, states like California that were running some surpluses now running historic deficits and challenges related to unemployment claims the likes of which they haven’t seen since the Great Depression.”
The $1 trillion in funding is designed to go to individuals states, counties and cities across all five states to maintain the services citizens count on now more than ever.
“This is the requirement of this moment. This gives you the sense of the thrust of the needs that we are all feeling as states, as regions, as cities, that are required to get through this pandemic and to make sure that we are doing justice to you, to your pubic health, to your public safety, to our education system,” said Newsom. Because remember, these budgetary shortfalls are so much bigger than any state, any city, any county. But they directly impact public safety, our firefighters, our police officers, our first responders. They directly impact public education and our teachers. They directly impact public health and our ability for counties to support their public health systems, It’s not just statest asking for bailouts, quite the contrary. Its requesting that we support those that we need the most at this time.”
Last week, Newsom said despite the state’s historic economic downturn he was confident the state could rebound, but said his optimism was conditioned on more federal support.
The governor’s announcement on the federal aid request comes following the first weekend of some California businesses being reopened during the Phase 2 easing of guidelines and workplace adaptations. Newsom is expected to announce on Tuesday additional guidelines for more businesses to reopen, such as dine-in restaurants, offices and shopping malls.
The governor noted that the number of deaths in the state from COVID-19 had dropped dramatically with just 25 new coronavirus deaths to report in the past 24 hours, bringing the state’s death toll to 2,770. The total number of coronavirus cases rose 1.9 percent to 67,939.
While with hospitalizations were up just under one percent, cases in intensive care were nearly flat, dropping 0.4 percent.