Restaurants have struggled during the pandemic. Photo by Chris Stone

Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders in Sacramento announced Wednesday they reached an agreement to give $600 in aid to low-income Californians and grants for small businesses.

The state estimates it will make $5.7 million in payments to low-income Californians. That includes California households with incomes below $30,000, as well as those unfairly excluded from previous federal stimulus payments, officials said.

The agreement proposes a four-fold increase of an ongoing grant program for small businesses – from $500 million to more than $2 billion – offering grants up to $25,000 for struggling small businesses. Lawmakers are also recommending increased tax relief, as well as license renewal fee waivers to restaurants, bars, and other small businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

“People are hungry and hurting, and businesses our communities have loved for decades are at risk of closing their doors,” said Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins. “We are at a critical moment, and I’m proud we were able to come together to get Californians some needed relief.”

Additional relief measures include $400 million in federal funds to subsidize childcare expenses for essential workers through June 2022, $100 million in emergency financial aid for qualifying low-income students, and $24 million to support agricultural workers who have to quarantine due to COVID-19.

Lawmakers are expected to move swiftly on the emergency stimulus package.

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