While Congressional leaders have allowed an expansion of federal unemployment benefits to expire and failed to extend a ban on evictions for most federally subsidized rental housing, millions of Californians and Americans struggled again to pay rent, buy food for their families, and avoid serious illness. For many out-of-work Californians — particularly Black, Latinx, and other Californians of color — the situation grows worse by the day. Forced out of their homes and into crowded housing with family or friends, skipping car payments, running up credit card debt to cover basic expenses. And all while the risk of the coronavirus sickening them or family members looms overhead.
As California and the nation continue to face a pandemic that shows no signs of easing, it’s imperative that federal and state policymakers do everything possible to help stem the spread of the virus, support millions of California workers and families while it’s not safe to work and build toward a better economic future for all people.
Californians recently learned of alarming estimates of the state’s budget shortfall as a result of the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state faces a $54 billion budget shortfall for the current and next fiscal years – a 37% decrease from the current state funding level. This stark news comes just ahead of his revised 2020-21 budget proposal. We can’t ignore how quickly COVID-19 has changed California’s fiscal outlook. Nor can we look away from the high price Californians are paying as they shoulder the economic impact of this crisis.
Another day ticks by in the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, and it becomes more evident than before that this pandemic is not affecting all Californians equally. A disproportionate share of Latinx Californians have tested positive for the disease, while Black and Asian Californians have been more likely to die from it. In addition, Californians of color are being hit hard by the economic crisis, as they comprise the majority of workers in industries most affected by business closures.
As widely reported, California is expected to receive billions from the three federal aid packages approved by Congress last week in response to the COVID-19 economic and health crisis. The California Budget & Policy Center will issue a breakdown on what these packages mean for Californians and the outstanding questions to be addressed between federal and state policies. These federal relief packages were necessary to start moving support to workers, households, businesses, and local governments who are dealing with the economic fallout of the fast-moving coronavirus.