Newsom Lays Out New Economic Recovery Priorities to Help Businesses During Pandemic

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Main News Photo

(San Francisco Business Journal)

Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out new priorities for how he wants California’s economy to move forward, as businesses struggle and unemployment remains high because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor is still watching for the number of hospitalizations and the rate of new COVID-19 cases to lower before the state could reopen some of its business sectors, like indoor dining and bars. The state reported 11,645 new cases on Aug. 11, including 6,212 cases that were part of a backlog caused by an outage in the state’s tracking system earlier this month. Statewide, hospitalizations have dropped about 19.4% over the last two weeks, though the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals is still above the numbers seen in March, April, and May.

“The most urgent economic recovery tool the business community needs is stabilizing the virus,” Newsom said.

Beyond getting a handle on the virus, Newsom also pointed to several new economic recovery priorities, including proposals that mirrored the $100 billion economic recovery proposal put out by Democratic state legislators in late July.

Newsom is looking to accelerate state-funded infrastructure projects as one way to spur the economy. The proposal could span about $400 million in infrastructure projects that are “permitted and ready to go,” he said.

Similar to the legislators' proposal, the governor also noted economic recovery proposals to:

  • Accelerate wildfire and green infrastructure projects
  • Expand workforce training
  • Streamline permitting in the hardest hit sectors
  • Upgrade technology and the state’s Office of Digital Innovation

Newsom also highlighted a proposal for a new “hiring tax credit” to help small businesses and microbusinesses hire new employees, and additional worker protections for paid family leave, paid sick days, and workers' compensation. Those protections could help ensure that workers who contract COVID-19 are able to stay away from their workplaces without losing their jobs, he said.

The governor is also looking into accelerating the distribution of $300 million of National Mortgage Settlement funds to assist vulnerable homeowners and renters. The funds were previously expected to be distributed over the course of several years, Newsom said.

Newsom said that the state is still looking to the federal government for reinstatement of additional benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that provided workers with $600 per week until the end of July. On Aug. 10, Newsom said that a Trump administration proposal that called on states to foot the bill created too large of a burden, and would cost the state $700 million per week.

Overall, the governor pointed to a desire to create a more “inclusive, resilient and future-proofed economy” as well as a need for more information technology infrastructure. The call for new information technology efforts arrives a week after reports that an outage in the state’s tracking system left out some 300,000 COVID-19 test results over the course of a week.

Newsom is expected to give a further update on expanding broadband infrastructure throughout the state and boosting its I.T. infrastructure later in the week.

Category: Government Affairs, Economic News, COVID-19, Healthcare