CA’s business leaders urge Congress for $1 trillion in pandemic relief

Gov. Gavin Newsom

California business leaders participating in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s task force on economic recovery have urged Congress to send $1 trillion in pandemic relief for state and local governments. 

The leaders, part of the governor’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery — which includes FivePoint Holdings LLC’s Emile Haddad — wrote in a letter to Congress sent Friday that “the worst of the economic impact [is] likely still to come” even after massive budget cuts brought forth by the COVID-19 crisis. 

While Haddad and members of the task force have agreed to refrain from interviews related to their work, their letter, addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, read: 

“In the short term, they (governments) must be able to scale-up necessary programs, like contact tracing and testing. Given budget shortfalls, they are also soon facing impossible decisions — like whether to fund additional safety measures related to COVID-19 that will help businesses reopen more quickly or prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders.

“Without additional assistance from the federal government, the very programs that will help people get back to their lives and get back to work — from child care to job training to small business support — will all be forced upon the chopping block.”

The request comes after House Democrats passed on Friday a proposal to offer $3 trillion in COVID-19 aid to state and local governments. Republican lawmakers have expressed that previous coronavirus relief funding should be looked into before approving additional bills. 

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, who was sworn into office Tuesday in Washington after his win in the 25th Congressional District special election, could not be reached Tuesday for comment on the task force’s request to Congress. 

California is facing a projected budget shortfall of $54.3 billion. Newsom announced last week that part of the state’s plan to close the budget gap would include deep cuts in spending on public schools and government services, as well as a 10% reduction in pay for state employees. 

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