[guest post by Dana]
[Ed. While California news is usually JVW’s bailiwick, he is currently sailing the seven seas on the Patterico yacht like the international tycoon that he is…so here goes.]
Interestingly, and perhaps coincidentally, Gov. Newsom, who is facing a recall, has announced that he is planning on a “recall refund” (as Republicans are calling it):
A year after slashing spending to fill a record-breaking deficit spurred by the pandemic, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is eyeing a massive surplus and hopes to send out a second, larger round of stimulus checks to residents.
California’s progressive tax structure means the state budget suffered early in the pandemic but quickly rebounded, bolstered by capital gains taxes and high-income earners who’ve seen their wealth grow over the past year.
Newsom, who will likely face a recall election later this year, announced a plan to send billions of dollars back to taxpayers. If approved, the state would give $600 checks to workers who earn up to $75,000 annually, with $500 bonuses for tax filers with dependents and undocumented families.
Newsom said 80% of the state’s workers and two-thirds of all residents would benefit from the plan.
Newsom said his stimulus proposal, which totals just under $12 billion in relief, goes “well above and beyond what is projected to be required” by the law. He claimed it is “the largest tax relief year-over-year in U.S. history as well, not just California history.”
The announcement comes just weeks after the California Secretary of State confirmed that there are more than enough valid signatures for a recall election of the governor.
Recent polling shows support for Newsom has inched up:
A growing number of Californians oppose the forthcoming recall of Gavin Newsom, according to a survey released Tuesday morning, a boost for the sitting governor who has suffered a series of political blows over the past year.
Roughly 49 percent said they were against removing Newsom, a tick higher than the 45 percent who responded similarly in January.
The poll found that only 36 percent of the registered voters queried supported recalling Newsom, virtually unchanged from the prior survey. Both were conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.
Opposition to the recall has grown as Newsom recovers politically somewhat and as Democrats begin to take more seriously the first gubernatorial recall since 2003 when former Gov. Gray Davis was removed in favor of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The state’s budget has also been buoyed by its pandemic-resistant tech sector, highly progressive tax structure and an approximately $26 billion windfall from the recent federal relief package.
With that, the 120-day extension of the original signature-gathering deadline granted by a judge is being challenged as a violation of the California constitution. Organizers claimed that the extension was necessary because of the COVID-19 pandemic (limiting the ability to gather signatures):
A Sacramento-area resident has challenged the legitimacy of the recall drive against Gov. Gavin Newsom, telling a state appellate court that a Superior Court judge violated the California constitution when he gave recall proponents more time to gather voter signatures.
The appeal, filed Monday with the 3rd District Court of Appeals in San Francisco, said Sacramento County Superior Court Judge James Arguelles violated a voter-approved constitutional amendment that limits signature gathering to 160 days to qualify an initiative for the ballot.
The filing asks the justices to block the recall until the court rules on the issue.
The law has been on the books for nearly 45 years as Proposition 14 of 1976.
Per the governor, because of the state’s high vaccination rate and low Covid-19 infection rate, California will reopen on June 15. When asked about whether there will continue to be mask requirements, Newsom answered “no”:
I ask @GavinNewsom what CA looks like on June 15th?
"That world looks a lot like the world we entered into before the pandemic, we're not wearing face coverings, we're not restricted…"
The exception? "Huge large scale indoor convention events where we'll use our common sense" pic.twitter.com/plORqOwdZJ
— Elex Michaelson (@Elex_Michaelson) May 12, 2021
So far, no Democrats have announced that they will be running in the special election. Rather they appear to have coalesced around the sitting governor. It looks like it’s all coming together for Newsom.