California lawmakers have passed their own coronavirus-relief legislation – a $7.6 billion package that includes $600 stimulus checks – as congressional Democrats continues effort to pass a federal $1.9 trillion package for President Biden.  

California’s Democrat-controlled legislature on Monday passed its measure, which Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected Tuesday to sign into law.

The package includes $2.1 billion in grants and fee waivers for small businesses. The $600 payments will go to qualified Californians – those who earning less than $30,000 annually.

“Our lower-wage workers have been disproportionately impacted,” said state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. 

Individuals and companies will be able to apply for stimulus assistance as soon as they file their 2020 tax returns. State officials estimate the entire process should take about four to five weeks. 

“This is such an important bill because it gives millions of hardworking Californians instant money that they so desperately need during this tough time, during this pandemic,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco.

About 565,000 stimulus payments will go to residents with individual tax identification numbers who did not receive federal stimulus payments and whose income is below $75,000, many of whom are immigrants in the country illegally, according to the Los Angles Times.

State GOP Sen. Jim Nielsen questioned the idea of committing the state budget to the needs of the undocumented population.

“This budget is going to be creating long-term obligation to the undocumented,” he said during legislative debate. 

Another Republican legislator, Assemblyman James Gallagher said that there would be no need to be passing such an extensive relief bill had the state not forced small businesses to close their doors for such a lengthy period of time. 

“This governor arbitrarily and unilaterally decided to shut down mostly small business in this state and as a result many small businesses have already gone out of business,” said Gallagher, who voted to support the business grants bill. 

There is more demand for the small business grants than cash available to distribute.

So businesses will be ranked and evaluated based on criteria including the industry in which the business exists and how hard that industry was hit by the pandemic.

The applications will be ranked to ensure a wide geographic distribution, and also to ensure that businesses owned by individuals of color are equitably represented in the the grant distribution. 

“Our commitment in that effort is to underserved communities and underrepresented communities, which means we are going to be very mindful of where those dollars go,” Newsom said Monday. 

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