California among Western states asking federal government for financial assistance

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Courtesy of the Office of the Governor

As the economic challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic continue, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Colorado officials are asking the federal government for $1 trillion, during his daily news briefing Monday.

“These are challenging times, and they require a collaborative spirit, they require a level of cooperation,” Newsom said, “that led to conversation with our Western governors and our Western pact, where we decided it would be best if we go together and advance our needs and put to light and put into writing our hope and expectation of support from the federal government.”

This request comes after Newsom announced Thursday that California is projecting a $54.3 billion deficit over the next year and an unemployment rate higher than during the Great Recession.

“It was just a number of months ago that California was announcing a projected $6 billion budget surplus … We’ve had record low unemployment record reserves in the state of California,” Newsom said. “Those numbers are completely flipped. We now are struggling with tens of billions (of dollars in) budget deficits … directly because of the impact of COVID-19.” 

California unemployment rates have skyrocketed since the onset of the pandemic, with 4.5 million Californians filing for unemployment since March 12 and $13.1 billion in unemployment claims being distributed, according to Newsom.

That being said, governors and other lawmakers from these five Western states wrote the federal government, requesting $1 trillion, which Newsom said is the support they feel they need for public safety, public education and public health. 

“I’m very pleased with this pact,” Newsom added.

In addition, Newsom announced that he would be making announcements Tuesday formally putting out the detailed sectoral guidelines as to when other businesses, such as dine-in restaurants, offices and shopping malls, should expect to reopen. 

Newsom plans to be flexible in these guidelines, working with each county and city directly, as no two are alike in terms of their requirements, he said. 

“I know others are more eager to move more quickly, and we will work with every county, with every city, in a practical and responsible way, but here’s the caveat, this is a health-driven conversation,” Newsom added. “There are some stubborn data points that are impediments, in terms of total number of hospitalizations, total capacity on surge, total capacity to trace and test, and, of course, death rates, that continue to be challenging.”

As the state and specific counties move forward with plans for reopening, Newsom reiterated that it will be done with public health considerations at the forefront. 

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