California uses funding as threat over virus measures

California Gov. Gavin Newsom says he could withhold up to $2.5 billion in the upcoming state budget to penalize counties that fail to comply with mandates intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Posted: Jun 24, 2020 3:01 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — As California sees a worrisome rise in the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened Wednesday to withhold up to $2.5 billion in the upcoming state budget from local governments that fail to comply with state mandates on wearing masks, testing and other measures meant to slow the spread of the virus.

“There are some that have made rhetorical comments about not giving a damn,” Newsom said in some of his most strident comments to date. “That’s exactly why I look forward to signing this budget that will afford me a little bit of leverage in that conversation.”

The money is intended to help local governments pay for services needed because of the pandemic. But it is contingent upon counties following emergency orders to enforce the safety measures as they gradually reopen the economy.

Newsom’s warning came as the state recorded a 69% increase in new cases this week, and set several daily records for new cases. Officials reported corresponding increases in the rate of people testing positive and hospitalizations.

Still, Newsom said the state is prepared to handle the trends.

The Democratic governor said he views the $2.5 billion fund in the budget that lawmakers are expected to approve this week as a reward, not a punishment for local government. He implored individuals to practice safety measures — at one point even demonstrating proper hand-washing techniques.

“This is not a closed fist, this is an open hand,” he said of the money.

”When people simply thumb their nose and do not come with a collaborative spirit ... then by all means the state of California has a responsibility, an obligation — legally and otherwise — to enforce those laws and to utilize the tools that are afforded us,” he said.

Newsom said he plans to hand out the money monthly, based on counties’ compliance. The bulk of the funding is expected to come from the federal government.

However, the budget bill before lawmakers leaves it up to local governments to certify to the state that they are complying.

It includes $550 million for local governments to house people who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Another $500 million is earmarked for cities and $1.3 billion for counties to be used toward homelessness, public health, public safety, and other services related to the pandemic.

Organizations representing cities and counties did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 526685

Reported Deaths: 9684
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1958054760
Riverside38487738
Orange38066653
San Bernardino34017477
San Diego30516568
Kern21228151
Fresno15759138
San Joaquin11958180
Alameda11909192
Santa Clara11030192
Sacramento10174148
Tulare9990193
Imperial9513232
Stanislaus9308135
Contra Costa8176131
Ventura787777
San Francisco698961
Santa Barbara652663
San Mateo5744120
Marin518076
Monterey496634
Merced458351
Kings445356
Solano380638
Sonoma311339
Madera211432
Placer195318
San Luis Obispo192616
Yolo161442
Santa Cruz11964
Butte10128
Napa9809
Sutter8406
San Benito6894
El Dorado6681
Lassen6320
Yuba5334
Shasta3979
Colusa3574
Mendocino3419
Glenn3321
Nevada3161
Tehama2461
Humboldt2454
Lake2111
Mono1451
Tuolumne1442
Amador1370
Calaveras1361
Del Norte900
Siskiyou880
Inyo641
Mariposa592
Plumas330
Trinity50
Modoc40
Sierra30
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
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Oroville
Clear
66° wxIcon
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Paradise
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Chester
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55° wxIcon
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Red Bluff
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Willows
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It was a slightly cooler day for northern California today, but a more significant cooling is arriving tomorrow, along with a slight chance for showers and thunderstorms over the mountains of northwest California.
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