State stimulus checks arrive in Californians’ bank accounts ahead of recall election

CALIFORNIA STIMULUS - As California continues the slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down many businesses last year, new $600 state stimulus checks have begun arriving in the bank accounts of residents who earn up to $75,000 annually, to help them get back on their feet.

The first batch of about 600,000 payments totaling some $354 million was directly deposited Friday and the state will send out checks to other taxpayers every two weeks, according to Daniel Tahara, a spokesman for the state Franchise Tax Board. 

Combined with a previous stimulus program to assist people who make up to $30,000 annually, the state expects to provide $11.8 billion to 15.2 million California households, reaching about two-thirds of the state’s taxpayers.

The stimulus payments are part of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s economic recovery package approved by the state Legislature in July to help households that have struggled to pay bills during the pandemic.

“The Golden State Stimulus is key to lifting up those hit hardest by the pandemic and supporting California’s economic recovery, putting money directly in the hands of folks who will spend it on basic needs and within their local communities,” Newsom said in a statement.

The checks have started arriving as California voters are casting ballots by mail for a Sept. 14 election to decide whether Newsom should be recalled from office.

As of Monday, 3.1 million ballots had been submitted by voters, more than 14% of the ballots mailed out by the state.

Some candidates to replace Newsom say the timing of the payments appears intended to boost Newsom’s popularity with voters who are deciding whether he gets to keep his job.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder cited Newsom’s announcement on Twitter, commenting sarcastically, “Why recall the guy who gives us money!?!”

Within hours of the announcement that money was going out, the California Democratic Party cited the stimulus payments on social media in urging people to vote to keep Newsom in office, saying he “has worked tirelessly to support” California families during the pandemic.

Newsom and the Legislature enacted a first round of $600 Golden State Stimulus payments in February for taxpayers who earned up to $30,000 annually.

In July, the governor and lawmakers approved a second round of $600 stimulus checks for those who make between $30,000 and $75,000. Taxpayers with dependents will receive $1,100, which Newsom has characterized as a tax rebate.

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(Patrick McGreevy is a reporter with the Los Angeles Times covering California state government and politics in the Sacramento Bureau. He previously worked in the Los Angeles City Hall Bureau for The Times. He is a native of San Diego and a graduate of San Jose State University.)