California Leads the Way in Massive COVID-19 Budget Deficits

Mark Rightmire/Orange County Register via ZUMA

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From the LA Times:

Gov. Gavin Newsom says that unemployment in California amid the COVID-19 pandemic has far exceeded what it was during the peak of the Great Recession, with 4.7 million people filing for jobless benefits, requiring the state to borrow billions of dollars more from the federal government to cover claims. At a news conference Thursday to present a revised state budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, Newsom said the state will need $43.8 billion to cover unemployment claims in the new year, a 650% increase over what was originally proposed.

The federal government is covering the $600 per week bonus payment to unemployed workers, but state governments are still responsible for base unemployment benefits. Thanks to COVID-19, this has skyrocketed from about $6 billion to $44 billion in California, and every other state is facing a similar situation.

And that’s just the start. Not only are expenses going up, but revenue from sales taxes and income taxes have cratered. The result is massive cuts in education, Medicaid, and social welfare programs for the poor. And since California, like most states, is required to balance its budget, there’s no way around this unless the federal government comes through with a huge aid package. At the moment, though, there’s no telling whether Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans are willing to do this. They are willing to urge everyone to engage in behavior that will make the COVID-19 pandemic even worse, but so far that’s about all they’ve been willing to commit to.

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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