Last week we learned that the city of Davis was now facing over a $20 million budget shortfall. This week, the news if anything is worse statewide, as the state is forced to attempt to close a budget gap of more than $54 billion brought on swiftly by the COVID-19 recession.
“COVID-19 has caused California and economies across the country to confront a steep and unprecedented economic crisis – facing massive job losses and revenue shortfalls,” said Governor Newsom.
The governor added, “Our budget today reflects that emergency. We are proposing a budget to fund our most essential priorities – public health, public safety and public education – and to support workers and small businesses as we restart our economy.”
The governor also noted that “difficult decisions lie ahead. He said, “With shared sacrifice and the resilient spirit that makes California great, I am confident we will emerge stronger from this crisis in the years ahead.”
“We are in a very different place now than when the governor released his initial state budget proposal in January,” Sen. Bill Dodd, who represents much of Yolo County in the State Senate, said in a statement on Thursday.
He continued, “COVID-19 has upended many of our plans, and unlike the federal government, California must pass a balanced budget and can’t print money. Thanks to years of building up our reserves and paying down debts, the state is better able to weather this downturn, but there are still tough choices ahead.”
“Gov. Newsom’s revised budget proposal is a responsible starting point for this new reality,” Sen. Dodd said. “I especially appreciate the critical investments included to build on our progress on wildfire preparedness and response. Those investments will save lives, homes and ultimately money. Over the next month, I’ll be working with my colleagues in the Legislature to refine and build on the governor’s proposal.”
Earlier this week, five western states including California signed a joint letter to leaders of both parties, requesting a combined $1 trillion in coronavirus relief funding from the federal government.
The letter warns that without such aid, states will be forced to make “impossible decisions” such as cutting public healthcare funding or laying off first responders and teachers should Congress not act.
“Without federal support, states and cities will be forced to make impossible decisions — like whether to fund critical public healthcare that will help us recover, or prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders,” they wrote.
“And, without additional assistance, the very programs that will help people get back to work — like job training and help for small business owners — will be forced up on the chopping block,” the governors continued.
But a $3 trillion package that would include the money needed for struggling states has been criticized as a “blue-state bailout” by Republican leaders.
The White House is threatening to veto any such legislation if it does make it through Congress, even as another three million people filed unemployment claims in the past week—a figure that brings the two-month tally to more than 36 million.
The White House said this week that the legislation proposed by House Democrats was more concerned with “delivering on longstanding partisan and ideological wish lists than with enhancing the ability of our nation to deal with the public health and economic challenges we face.”
Locally in Yolo County, the county health officials have amended the current shelter-in-place order to now allow childcare for non-essential workers, select services, and for outdoor museums and open gallery spaces to re-open while non-essential office-based businesses must remain closed.
In a release, the county stated, “While the State Order is in effect, counties are permitted to be more restrictive than the state regarding the re-opening of activities. The State’s Order now allows for office-based business to re-open, while strongly encouraging continued teleworking.”
The county will delay reopening non-essential offices until next week, as it develops localized guidance.
Face coverings would remain mandatory in Yolo County for the public and businesses.
Recently, the state announced they would allow for regional variation, or an opportunity for counties to move further into Phase Two and “reopen additional services or businesses if they could attest to meeting the State’s criteria by submitting a readiness plan that was approved by the local health officer and Board of Supervisors.”
In response, Yolo County says it “has developed a readiness plan and plan on submitting it to the State for final approval this week.”
Yolo County said on Thursday it “continues to monitor developments related to the State Order as well as local data. Additional amendments on loosening or tightening activities under the County’s Shelter-in-Place order will be based on developments related to these two areas.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting