As the legislature’s Aug. 31 end-of-session deadline looms, Gov. Gavin Newsom floated a handful of economic recovery ideas during a Wednesday coronavirus press conference, including some put forth by legislative Democrats in a $100 billion stimulus package.
The governor stopped short of endorsing the entire plan but said he liked the idea of accelerating investment in infrastructure, wildfire and green technology projects to create jobs.
He also called for help for small businesses through hiring credits and exempting federal Paycheck Protection Program business loans from taxes, a plan currently in a bill sponsored by Assemblymember Autumn Burke( D – Los Angeles).
The governor called for additional worker protections, including sick leave.
“If we’re going to eliminate this disease, we want people that have tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19 — we need them to isolate. We need them to quarantine. But if you can’t afford to quarantine … you need protections,” he said.. “It’s the only way we’re going to succeed here.”
Eviction proceedings have been paused since March, but that moratorium may expire Sept. 1 unless the Legislature acts. Newsom also proposed emptying some $300 million in a settlement fund from the 2008 housing crisis to aid struggling renters and homeowners.
Newsom said that while he’s had “constructive conversations” on the topic, he didn’t “want to get in the way of the negotiation right now, except to say we are committed to getting something done over the course of the next few weeks on evictions.”
But the governor says the “most urgent economic recovery tool” is to get the coronavirus under control.
Tech issues have muddied California’s coronavirus picture for more than a week. But Newsom said as a backlog of cases is processed, the numbers show “an indication that we are turning a corner on this pandemic.”
A glitch led to 295,000 uncounted disease records — and the resignation of California’s public health officer. The backlog has been cleared, and Newsom said he expects the data will be processed by the end of the week.
For now, case counts are coming in high because of the previously unreported test results. The state on Wednesday reported 11,645 new cases, but Newsom said more than half of those confirmed cases were backlogged numbers — meaning the true number for Wednesday was 5,433 new cases.
He also noted hospitalizations have decreased 19% over the past two weeks while intensive care unit admissions have declined 16%.
“What we are doing as a state ... what you are doing is working. Wearing those face masks is responsible — I believe, disproportionately — with this trendline,” he said.
While the governor said he has been “absolutely focused” on battling the coronavirus, he congratulated Sen. Kamala Harris for her selection as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate.
The governor, who worked with Harris in San Francisco when he was mayor and she was district attorney, praised her “empathy, her compassion, her learnedness, her doggedness, her commitment to solving problems, not just identifying problems.”
“You can imagine how proud I’m feeling,” he said.
If the ticket wins, Newsom would be responsible for appointing Harris’ replacement to the Senate. He said people have already begun to pitch themselves to him as potential picks to fill the seat but: “that’s not what I’m focused on right now.”
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