Gov. Gavin Newsom revealed Thursday the historic dimensions of the hole the coronavirus pandemic has blown in California’s once-rosy budget while also laying down strict guidelines for counties that want to go beyond Friday’s gradual easing of shelter-in-place orders.
Less than four months ago, California was looking at a $6 billion surplus and a rainy day fund of almost $20 billion. The governor announced the state is now looking at a deficit of $54 billion, projected unemployment at 18% and $18 billion in cuts to public schools.
"We’re projecting tens of billions of dollars in shortfalls, all specifically related to COVID-19, all specifically related to this pandemic," Gov. Newsom said in his daily press conference.
It will probably take a combination of budget cuts and tax or fee hikes to balance the books.
However, the governor himself doesn’t believe that will be enough.
"But this is bigger than all of us and we really need the federal government to do more," Gov. Newsom explained.
The governor defended the loose vetting of PPE vendors during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, describing it was the "wild, wild west" in explaining that California did get its money back from an unfulfilled contract with a three-day-old Chinese company.
"No money wasted, lesson learned, procedures and protocol put in place," Gov. Newsom said.
There are also new protocols in place for Phase 2 of California’s gradual reopening. Curbside retail, manufacturing and warehouse work have been cleared to resume Friday with sufficient social distancing and protective gear.
"Containment plans are critical," Gov. Newsom said. "These protection plans are foundational for our success so we can continue to move through this next phase."
Counties that want to move more quickly will have to go two weeks without a single death from COVID-19 and no more than one virus case per 10,000 people before they are allowed to accelerate to the next phase of reopening.
Marin County Public Health Officer Matt Willis told KCBS Radio that Marin, along with Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco, Contra Costa and Alameda counties plan to reopen retail businesses for curbside service on Monday, May 18, not tomorrow as allowed by the revised statewide order.