CA Democrats want to "fill gaps" if $600 unemployment boost is slashed

Millions of Californians received their last $600 supplemental unemployment benefit last week. There's disagreement on Capitol Hill over how to continue the program.

House Democrats want to extend the boost, Senate Republicans unveiled their relief plan which includes cutting the benefit to $200.

If that's what Congress decides, Democrats in the California legislature want to step in.

“If that benefit is working in the short term, I don’t know why we’re stopping it," said Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), chair of the budget committee. "Because the last thing we need is thousands of people evicted onto the streets.”

Assemblyman Ting and other CA Democratic legislative leaders released a $100 billion coronavirus stimulus outline. The list of proposals includes a plan to borrow federal money to fill gaps in unemployment insurance, if the $600 payment is cut. It also extends the benefit to undocumented workers who lost jobs. 

“Millions of Californians who are struggling, they’re one unemployment check away from not being able to pay rent, buy food," said Ting.  "We know they have nowhere else to turn.”

The outline is limited in details but includes: 

  • Allowing the pre-payment of income taxes in exchange for future vouchers
  • Expansion of the earned income tax credit
  • Tax breaks for small businesses
  • Plans to protect renters from eviction and help struggling homeowners and landlords

“It whiffs of desperation," said state Senator Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno). "They want to throw an extraordinary amount of money not knowing exactly how to refine the needs, how to understand best use of dollars." 

Borgeas and the California Senate Republican Caucus also said this in a statement: "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. Consider what they have done since the start of this pandemic. California Democrats have allowed an increase in the gas tax during one of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; they’ve spent billions of dollars on homeless, only to see the situation worsen; ever-changing small business directives and guidelines; and are putting at risk the safety of every California resident by allowing 18,000 convicted felons back into our communities."

State lawmakers are limited on time. The legislative session is scheduled to end on August 31, giving them five weeks to complete a deal with Governor Newsom. On Monday, the governor said he had not had a chance to review the details yet, but wanted a focus on inclusion.  “We have to include a framework of bringing people along as we reopen our economy," said Newsom. "And as we grow our economy.”

If lawmakers need more time, the governor can call a special session.