Legislature, Governor Approve Early Action Budget Items, including COVID-19 Emergency Response

On Monday, the California State Senate and Assembly acted on a series of early action budget items proposed by the Newsom Administration, including investments to support the continued emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic and supplemental paid sick leave for California workers. We highlight these actions below:

COVID-19 Emergency Response Funding

SB 115 (Skinner) received final approval from the California Legislature early in the week. Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed the $1.9 billion COVID-19 package to bolster the state’s ongoing emergency response to the pandemic. The measure, initially unveiled in January by the Newsom Administration, initially included a $1.4 billion emergency appropriation request which expanded to $1.9 billion to support the state’s response to the Omicron surge.

The $1.9 billion measure includes:

  • $806 Million to Bolster Testing
    • Expand hours and capacity at testing sites throughout the state
    • Distribute millions of COVID-19 antigen tests to local health departments, community clinics, and county offices of education and schools
    • Support the state’s testing facilities, including specimen collection
    • Assist state departments in testing their staff and congregate populations
  • $400 Million to Promote Vaccines and Combat Misinformation
    • Continue the “Vaccinate All 58” public education campaign to provide reliable information and build vaccine confidence while combating misinformation
    • Maintain a robust community outreach and direct appointment assistance campaign by conducting canvassing, phone banking, and texting
    • Support in-home vaccination and testing programs and transportation assistance
    • Provide free transportation to vaccination appointments throughout the state
  • $486 Million for Frontline Workers and Health Care Systems
    • Support distribution of personnel resources for health systems to help protect frontline workers, patient care, hospital surge capacity, and vaccination site staff
  • $141 Million to Maintain State Operations
    • Provide resources to enhance the state’s emergency response and public health capacities, including staffing and information technology at CDPH, Office of Emergency Services, and the Emergency Medical Services Authority
  • $100 Million to Support Mutual Aid, Contact Tracing, and Personal Protective Equipment
    • Provide mutual aid to support local governments
    • Continue statewide contact tracing activities
    • Procure additional personal protective equipment, including children’s N95 and surgical masks

CHEAC applauds the Legislature and Newsom Administration for enacting this important funding measure to continue the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional information from the Governor’s Office is available here.

Supplemental Paid Sick Leave and Business Relief

The California Legislature similarly granted final approval to both SB 114 and SB 113 on Monday as part of the early budget action package. Governor Newsom, in a visit to a small business in Alameda County on Wednesday, signed the measures into law.

SB 114 ensures that employees have access to up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave through September 30, 2022. The additional paid sick leave may be used to support employees who have been advised to quarantine, those care for COVID-19-impacted family members, attending a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, and more. The law does not apply to small businesses employing 25 or fewer workers. The supplemental paid sick leave is retroactive to sick leave taken beginning January 1, 2022.

SB 115 provides California businesses an additional $6.1 billion in tax relief, tax credits, and direct grants to businesses impacted by the pandemic. The measure, among other items, provides a nearly $500 million tax cut for restaurants and venues, restores $5.5 billion in tax credits and deductions for businesses, and invests $150 million in COVID-19 relief grants into small businesses.

Additional information from the Governor’s Office is available here.