Claiming an estimated multi-billion dollar budget surplus for the second year in a row, California Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday unveiled plans to spend $2.7 billion to fight the incredible COVID-19 pandemic.
Newsom’s proposed $2.7 billion COVID-19 Emergency Response Package, which includes a $1.4 billion request for emergency funding, will be supported by efforts to increase vaccine and booster administration, expand statewide testing capacity, and increase medical personnel in the coming year. will be spent on Governor’s office.
This represents a nearly 60% increase in the amount of COVID-19 funding provided in last year’s budget – $1.7 billion.
“California has taken swift and direct action to fight COVID-19 from day one, saving thousands of lives, but there is still more work to do,” Newsom said in a written statement on Saturday. “Our proposed COVID-19 emergency response package will support our testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers and health care systems, and fight misinformation.”
On Monday the governor is set to present his full budget proposal for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Independent analysts last estimated the state would see a state budget surplus of $31 billion. Newsom’s spending plan will provide an updated estimate next week. And, over the next several months, state lawmakers will negotiate the specifics ahead of the June 15 deadline for passing the budget.
The initial announcement about the COVID-19 Emergency Response Package comes amid an alarming surge caused by the highly infectious Omron variant and as California’s emergency rooms, schools and businesses struggle with staffing and testing shortages.
California’s 7-day average of new daily cases hit a record high of more than 65,000 cases on average this week, according to the latest data. And, in highly vaccinated Santa Clara County, an average of more than 2,000 people are testing positive each day, the county’s online database shows.
According to state public health officials, till Saturday, more than 10,000 patients of COVID-19 were hospitalized due to the virus.
Still, officials said they anticipate the state will see a significant drop in cases by early February.
“The crystal ball is more dangerous than previously thought,” said a Newsom administration official. “We’re looking at the data every day, trying to make it as clear as possible.”
The bulk of the new emergency pandemic package – $1.2 billion – will focus on COVID-19 testing, including expanding hours and capacity at state-run testing sites and distributing millions of free COVID-19 antigen tests to local health departments and community agencies. includes doing. The funding will be in addition to dollars recently spent this fiscal year on expanding the testing facility’s hours and distributing millions of antigen tests to students in K-12 public schools, which state officials are currently completing.
Newsom on Friday deployed more than 200 members of the California National Guard to further increase testing capacity statewide by helping with crowd control, patient check-in and filling in for staff members who become ill.
Amid a spurt in outbreaks in state prisons, the package provides $625 million to increase testing capacity and vaccinations at California Correctional and Rehabilitation facilities. State corrections officials suspended personal and family visits for inmates starting Saturday due to rising COVID-19 cases among inmates and staff.
The remaining funds will be used to expand the state’s vaccination education campaign, offer free transportation to vaccination appointments, provide additional staffing for health care systems, and increase humanitarian efforts at the California-Mexico border.
Instead of waiting for the new fiscal year to roll everything out, Newsom is asking the legislature for $1.4 billion in emergency funding to fight the current surge and to pass updated legislation for new COVID California to quickly equip the U.S. health care system with supplies and staff. -19 Supplemental paid sick leave policies for frontline workers. Newsom’s administration said they look forward to working with state lawmakers in the coming days and weeks to get these items done as quickly as possible.
In November, the California Department of Public Health deployed more than 2,200 staff members to health care facilities across the state to help them navigate an anticipated winter boom. The requested $1.4 billion would allow the state to continue offering additional staff and expand it further, according to Newsom’s administration.
Carmella Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, said in a written statement, “As the current Omicron boom demonstrates, no one knows how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last or the magnitude of its impact on California in the years to come. ” , “What we do know is that the demand for our state’s health care system has never been higher, and we need all the help we can get.”
Although the state is in the midst of a record-breaking coronavirus case boom, California is also bringing in a historic stream of tax collections. In September, tax collections on income, sales and corporations were up 40% compared to the same period last year and nearly 60% higher than in September 2019 – according to the state’s independent legislative analyst, an increase in retail sales and stock prices. A trend from surging prices. The Office.
The anticipated surplus is so high that it could push California past a constitutional limit on state spending, prompting state lawmakers to provide a cash exemption to taxpayers. As part of last year’s multi-billion dollar budget surplus, lawmakers sent stimulus checks to millions of Californians.