New report suggests bigger Golden State Stimulus payments

SACRAMENTO — A new report from the California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office suggests the state could issue $1,800 Golden State Stimulus payments, three times as much as the $600 stimulus payments Gov. Newsom initially proposed.

The LAO says lawmakers should consider changes that would increase the amount of the stimulus payment but limit the number of people who receive it.

The report receives unbridled support from state Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella.

“We would love to see the Governor, and the Legislature take on some of the recommendations in the report that was put forward, that says, ‘Hey, let’s do a little more for California,’” Garcia told Uken Report.  “We’re hopeful that we might be able to bump the amount up a bit.”

An $1,800 Golden State Stimulus check would provide much-needed support, along with what could potentially be an additional relief package from Washington D.C., to people residing in his District.

Garcia represents the 56th district, which comprises the cities and communities of Blythe, Brawley, Bermuda Dunes, Calexico, Calipatria, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, El Centro, Holtville, Imperial, Indio, Mecca, Oasis, North Shore, Salton Sea, Thermal, Thousand Palms, and Westmorland.

The increase would cost the state a little more money, but it also would spur some economic movement, Garcia said.

Solons Discuss Golden State Stimulus

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia

Garcia is painfully aware that many of his constituents are behind on a number of payments that range from utilities to rent. Although there are moratoriums and freezes on turning off utilities, residents need to pay incrementally. They must make some type of payment in order to qualify for existing programs to continue to receive their benefit.

“We also know that there are significant issues related to unemployment,” Garcia said. “That also translates to food shortages, hungry kids, hungry families at home. And so certainly, some money in the pocket of a family will allow them to go do the basic things, like go to a Food 4 Less to fill up and stock up their refrigerator and their pantry, right?”

State Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, takes a slightly different approach.

Solons Discuss Golden State Stimulus

Sen. Melissa Melendez

“In complying with (Gov. Newsom’s) shut-down orders, California small business owners are losing their livelihoods,” Melendez wrote in a statement to Uken Report. “While the Golden State Stimulus provides immediate relief, small business owners need to be protected from unnecessary fines and penalties like those outlined in my SB 102. They need to be provided tax relief by ensuring federal stimulus dollars are not considered taxable income – a policy not included in his state budget plan. In short, California small businesses need all the help they can get.”

Melendez represents the 28th Senate District which is entirely encompassed in Riverside County and includes the cities of Blythe, Canyon Lake, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, Lake Elsinore, La Quinta, Murrieta, Temecula, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, and Wildomar

The Governor’s current plan calls for $600 stimulus payments to about 4 million people in the state, at a cost of $2.4 billion. It would automatically be sent to 2019 taxpayers who received the California Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal EITC), along with 2020 taxpayers with individual tax identification numbers (ITINs) who receive a Cal EITC.

The report from the LAO finds the Governor’s approach doesn’t help many people who lost income during the pandemic and suggests that lawmakers use a different approach to get the money to populations in need.

“Due to enhanced unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and stimulus checks, income in 2020 for most EITC workers was similar, if not higher, than their 2019 income,” the report states. “In contrast, ITIN taxpayers and other undocumented workers have faced significant income losses but have not received UI benefits or stimulus checks.”

The LAO suggests instead of the $600 payments, the state could provide $1,800 payments to ITIN filers with incomes below $30,000. ITIN filers were not eligible for the federal stimulus payments. The LAO approach would pay them the same amount that other taxpayers received from the federal government.

The LAO approach would cost between $700 million and $1 billion, less than half the price of the Governor’s stimulus plan. The report suggests lawmakers could use the remaining funds to help undocumented workers who do not use an ITIN.

A state assembly subcommittee will discuss the LAO’s report on Tuesday.


Image Sources

  • Eduardo Garcia: Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia
  • Melisssa Melendez: Melisssa Melendez
  • $100 bills: Shutterstock