Newsom touts $100 billion pandemic relief 'California Comeback Plan'

California Governor Gavin Newsom's press conference for the official reopening of the state of California at Universal Studios Hollywood on June 15, 2021 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
California Governor Gavin Newsom's press conference for the official reopening of the state of California at Universal Studios Hollywood on June 15, 2021 in Universal City, California. Newsom Tuesday touted the state's newly signed $100 billion "California Comeback Plan." (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

EL SERENO (CNS) - In a raucous, campaign-like event in El Sereno, Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday touted the state's newly signed $100 billion "California Comeback Plan," hailing the budget package as one of the most ambitious in the nation.

"Harnessing the largest surplus in state history, we're making transformative investments across the board that will help bring all our communities roaring back from the pandemic -- and pay dividends for generations to come," Newsom said during an appearance at Barrio Action Youth & Family Center in El Sereno.
"The state has an historic surplus of about $80 billion."

Directing his comments toward renters, Newsom insisted, "We have your back," citing funds to pay 100% of back rent, from April 2020 through September 2021, for low-income renters who were financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and unable to meet their housing costs.

Newsom added that he is "mindful about the stresses and challenges" that California still faces, but he is "absolutely confident and enlivened by what this blueprint, what this `comeback plan' here in the state of California offers 40 million Californians strong into the future."

The ceremonial El Sereno event by Newsom -- who is facing a recall election -- took on a campaign-like feel, as a host of local union leaders and public officials, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Councilman Kevin de Leon, rallied the crowd, eliciting cheers with shouts such as "Is El Sereno in the house?" Members of the crowd seated behind the podium waved colorful blue signs reading "California Comeback Plan."

Hours before the Newsom appearance, Garcetti celebrated the budget plan, saying billions of dollars would go toward helping Angelenos.

"These funds -- and many more -- will help us expand and implement programs that will have lasting, positive impacts on our city and our communities," Garcetti said.

"Thanks to our Los Angeles legislative delegation, our city secured some big wins. I want to thank our delegation and Governor Newsom for the important resources that will be coming to our community to address homelessness, housing, economic recovery, climate change and more," he added.

According to the mayor's office, the state plan includes:

-- $2 billion for Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers who are behind on their electric and water bills due to the COVID-19 pandemic;

-- $555.4 million to expand summer youth employment opportunities;

-- $2 million to support Los Angeles' Gang Reduction and Youth Development program;

-- $11 million for the Potrero Canyon Pacific Coast Highway Pedestrian Bridge;

-- $5 million for the Southeast San Fernando Valley Roller and Skateboard Rink in Sun Valley;

-- $3.25 million to revitalize the Canoga Park Arts District;

-- $6.5 million to advance Destination Crenshaw in South Los Angeles through infrastructure and public art improvements;

-- $2 million to renovate Salazar Park in East Los Angeles;

-- $2.3 million to upgrade pedestrian access and finalize a complete streets project at the Louise Avenue 101 Freeway overcross in Encino;

-- $14.9 million for restoration of the Breed Street Shul;

-- $5 million for the Colorado Bridge Undercrossing East Bank River Way Project; and

-- $10 million to support the Museum of Tolerance, which aims to help residents understand the Holocaust and the history of bigotry and discrimination.

The budget also includes $15 million as a one-time allocation for the renovation of a permanent home for the UCLA Labor Center, which will be named the UCLA Reverend James Lawson Jr. Worker Justice Center.

Councilman Gil Cedillo, who represents the center's district, celebrated the funding:

"The UCLA Downtown Labor Center has been located in Council District 1 at 675 S. Park View St. in the Westlake/MacArthur Park neighborhood of Los Angeles for 19 years, and has made historic contributions to working-class communities, immigrants, and communities of color, who have faced the most severe consequences and mortality rates from the COVID pandemic. I look forward to continuing my support of the Center's social justice work that is so important to my constituents," he said.

In a letter to constituents Tuesday, Garcetti also noted statewide funding that will benefit Angelenos, including:

-- $12 billion over the next two years that will go directly to California cities to help them tackle homelessness;

-- $2.75 billion for the statewide Project Homekey initiative to purchase hotel and motel rooms to provide housing for the homeless;

-- $8.1 billion to send $600 to Californians who make under $75,000;

-- a Medi-Cal expansion to include undocumented residents who are age 50 and over;

-- $1.5 billion in small business assistance grants;

-- $35 million for Universal Basic Income pilot programs; and

-- $120 million over three years to provide legal services to renters and homeowners at risk of eviction and foreclosure.