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Golden State Stimulus: Who in California qualifies for payments of up to $1,100

In what’s being touted as the “biggest economic recovery package” in California history, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced a proposal to send up to $1,100 in tax rebates to millions of residents in the nation’s most populous state.

In previewing the plan, which still must be approved by the Democratic-controlled state Legislature, the governor highlighted the major expansion of the Golden State Stimulus program. The second round of direct payments is a key part of the state’s ongoing effort to help those hit hardest financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“California’s recovery is well underway, but we can’t be satisfied with simply going back to the way things were,” Newsom said. “We are tripling the Golden State Stimulus to get money in the hands of more middle-class Californians.”

Who is eligible?

In the governor’s newly proposed $100 billion California Comeback Plan, nearly $12 billion will be set aside for stimulus checks, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Those who qualify for $600 payments include all taxpayers who earn up to $75,000 and did not receive payment from the first round of Golden State Stimulus.

The $75,000 income threshold for stimulus checks is now the same as that established by the federal government to receive the maximum benefit in all three rounds of the COVID-19 relief packages.

Eligible households with at least one child would also qualify for an additional $500, bringing the total possible rebate to $1,100. Undocumented families are also eligible to receive the extra $500, the release stated.

The new plan triples the previous eligibility for direct payments to about two-thirds of Californians, in what Newsom described as the biggest tax rebate ever offered in any state.

Why is California sending out a second round of stimulus?

Earlier this year, Newsom signed into law a $9.6 billion economic recovery package that included a one-time payment of $600 for about 5.7 million residents. Those payments were limited mostly to Californians with an annual income of $30,000 or less, as well as some undocumented taxpayers who were ineligible to receive the federal stimulus checks.

The new round of tax rebates is possible thanks to the state’s $75.7 billion budget surplus — a remarkable turnaround from a once-projected budget shortfall of $54.3 billion just a year ago. The massive surplus is largely the result of taxes paid by wealthy residents.

“Because of California’s very progressive tax structure, and because most of our revenue comes from the wealthiest … we have money,” said state Senate Budget Chair Nancy Skinner. “Now, unlike other states, we are using that money to support the many Californians who’ve been hurt during this pandemic.”

What else is in the proposal?

Along with the tax rebates, Newsom’s proposal also offers the largest renter assistance package of any state in the U.S. The plan would provide $5.2 billion to help low-income Californians pay 100% of their back rent, as well as rent for the next several months.

It would also offer $2 billion of relief for overdue water and utility expenses.

When could Californians receive the payments?

A timeline on when individuals will get the much-needed pandemic aid is still unknown. Newsom hasn’t even presented his economic recovery proposal to the California Legislature — something that’s expected to happen this Friday.

Once that happens, state lawmakers will begin negotiations on the newly revised state budget. The deadline to pass the budget is June 15 by midnight.