In front of a mostly masked crowd of children and families waving “California Roars Back” and “California for All” signs, the governor on Tuesday signed into law a budget bill containing his oft-touted $100 billion stimulus plan. The package, made possible by federal relief funds and a state surplus that Newsom said had swelled from $76 billion to more than $80 billion, served as a launchpad for the governor to campaign against the quickly approaching recall election without ever mentioning it. He ran through the budget’s highlights: stimulus checks for two-thirds of Californians, rent relief, small-business aid, a historic investment in public education.
- Newsom: “People that have been directly impacted by this pandemic … we will pay 100% of your rent going back to April of last year … and going forward to Sept. 30 of this year. 100% of your rent. … And you say, ‘That’s great, but I’ve got this water bill, I’ve got this electric bill.’ We will pay 100% of those bills as well.”
Although the governor’s speech projected confidence and control, other developments appear to be more frenetic — potentially complicating Newsom’s attempts to prove his competency to voters.
For example: The new fiscal year began two weeks ago, but Newsom still hasn’t signed the full budget into law, leaving key details up in the air. On Monday, the state Department of Public Health issued a rule ordering schools to ban unmasked students from campus — only to reverse itself hours later, giving districts discretion in handling students who refuse to wear face coverings. Also Monday, a judge ruled that Newsom will not be able to list himself as a Democrat on the recall ballot due to a filing error his lawyers made last year.
Meanwhile, his predecessor and fellow Democrat Jerry Brown poked a hole in Newsom’s budget bubble by calling the state’s spending “not sustainable” in an interview with NBC News Los Angeles. He also said California would soon see “fiscal stress” — a prediction potentially reinforced by figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Labor Department. The Consumer Price Index, a key measure of inflation, jumped 5.4% in the year through June — marking the biggest rise since 2008.
In the Bay Area, for example, that translated to unleaded gas prices rising nearly 42% and used car and truck prices skyrocketing 44%.
(Emily Hoeven is an award-winning writer, reporter and editor for CalMatters where this story was first posted.)