Washington (CNN)California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, facing a Republican-led recall, said Monday he wants to return the state’s enormous $75.7 budget surplus to the pockets of taxpayers via an expanded stimulus check program he says would benefit two out of every three residents.
The $12 billion proposal would amount to the largest year-over-year rebate that’s ever been provided in any state in American history, Newsom said. It’s part of his larger $100 billion “California Comeback Plan” that would also include rental assistance and direct relief to help Californians pay off water, gas and electricity bills.
The governor said that the program is possible because the state has a $75.7 billion budget surplus, noting that at this time last year he had announced a $54.3 billion projected shortfall.
“It’s a remarkable turnaround,” Newsom said at a press conference. “I made the point at the state of the state (address) a number of months ago: California is now coming back. California is going to come roaring back.”
If the plan gets approved by the Democratic-controlled state legislature, it would send $600 stimulus checks to residents earning up to $75,000 who didn’t receive an earlier payment from the state. Families could be eligible for an additional $500. Money already went out in April to Californians earning up to $30,000.
Newsom stressed that he will need the cooperation of the state legislature to proceed with his plan, but noted that two of the budget chairs were present at the press conference
“I’m by no means naive about the deliberative process … but I’m mindful that our values are aligned,” he said.
Newsom was asked whether this is a deliberate strategy to generate good publicity given the recall election. Side-stepping that question, he said he is “really proud of California’s resilience” and “California’s remarkable capacity, not only to come back, but to come roaring back.”
The California secretary of state confirmed in late April that proponents of the Republican-led effort to recall Newsom had gathered the more than 1.4 million valid signatures that were needed to initiate the recall. But state officials have yet to officially call or schedule the election because there are still a number of bureaucratic steps that must be completed.
The recall has been fueled by anger over the restrictions the governor put in place to curb the spread of Covid throughout last year and during an alarming surge in cases during the winter holiday months. California has been one of the slowest states to get children back to school.
Only 4 in 10 likely voters said they would vote to recall Newsom in a recent poll by the Public Policy Institu
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