Essential California: Second round of $600 stimulus checks could benefit 2 out of 3 Californians

Gov. Gavin Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom takes part in a news conference on Monday in Oakland, where he unveiled his proposal for a second round of $600 stimulus checks for most Californians.
(Aric Crabb / Bay Area News Group via Associated Press)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, May 11. I’m Kimi Yoshino, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing a second round of $600 stimulus checks, a move that would expand payments to middle-class families and benefit two-thirds of state residents. Families with children would get an additional $500.

Times reporters Patrick McGreevy and John Myers detailed Newsom’s proposal:


“The proposal to deliver $8 billion in new cash payments to millions of Californians is part of a $100-billion economic stimulus plan made possible in part by a budget that has swelled with a significant windfall of tax revenues, a surplus the governor put at $75.7 billion. Newsom also proposed $5 billion to double rental assistance to get 100% of back rent paid for those who have fallen behind, along with as much as $2 billion in direct payments to pay down utility bills that are overdue.

“ ‘Direct stimulus checks going into people’s pockets and direct relief — that’s meaningful,’ Newsom said during a visit to the Unity Council, a nonprofit social equity development corporation in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland.

“Under the governor’s proposal, which still requires approval from the Legislature, households earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income will be able to receive the second round of stimulus payments.”

Newsom’s plan comes as federal aid is starting to roll out to the states. The Treasury Department on Monday said California will receive $27 billion under the $1.9-trillion pandemic relief law President Biden signed in March.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

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California’s drought emergency has now been extended to 41 counties, broadening an earlier declaration limited to just Sonoma and Mendocino. (Fresno Bee)

A gathering of people, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, at a dry lake
Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a news conference on April 21 at Lake Mendocino, where he proclaimed a drought emergency for Mendocino and Sonoma counties. He extended that order on Monday to 41 counties.
(Associated Press)

L.A. County could hit herd immunity among adults and older teens by July. To reach that level, the estimated population that needs to be vaccinated is “probably somewhere around 80%,” L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Monday. (Los Angeles Times)

NBC won’t air the Golden Globes in 2022, after a Times investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. that highlighted ethical lapses, financial improprieties and a lack of diversity. The network’s announcement on Monday comes as other studios, networks and celebrities have distanced themselves from the group. (Los Angeles Times)

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The campaign to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom is so far failing to gain momentum, according to a new poll by UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies/L.A. Times. Meanwhile, reality star and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner faces an uphill climb in her candidacy, with just 6% of those surveyed saying they would vote to have her replace Newsom. (Los Angeles Times)

Another thing that may help Newsom: California has a huge budget surplus. He is expected to release a revised budget proposal this week that could send some money back to taxpayers. (Sacramento Bee)


Vaccines appear to be working well against the two most dominant COVID variants in California. That’s good news at a time when case numbers in California continue to be among the lowest per capita in the country. (Los Angeles Times)


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for use in kids ages 12 to 15. Here’s why that matters. (Los Angeles Times)

The Bay Area is also close to reaching herd immunity, with some of the best vaccination rates in the country. (San Francisco Chronicle)


California schools have been struggling to get students back to school and Los Angeles Unified School District is no exception. Data released by the district Monday showed that only 7% of high school students have returned to campus, despite extensive safety protocols. (Los Angeles Times)

How Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela helped heal the wounds of Chavez Ravine, where hundreds of Latino families were forced out by eminent domain in the 1950s. Watch Episode 3 of Fernandomania @ 40, a documentary series looking at Valenzuela’s effect on the Dodgers, Major League Baseball and the Latino community in Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)


L.A. Dist. Atty. George Gascon has ordered his prosecutors to support parole in most cases. He’s the only D.A. in the state to issue such a blanket policy. The move has alarmed law enforcement but been lauded by criminal justice reform advocates. (LAist)

A 16-year-old teen who was bullied on Snapchat took his own life. Now his mom is suing Snap and two anonymous messaging apps. (Los Angeles Times)



Slab City has drawn tourists from around the world for years to its quirky, Instagram-ready desert compound, but the pandemic has isolated it even further. (Los Angeles Times)

An aerial view of tourists visiting Salvation Mountain at Slab City.
An aerial view of tourists visiting Salvation Mountain, created by the late resident Leonard Knight at Slab City.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Golden Gate Park will get new public art after statues were toppled during last summer’s racial reckoning protests in San Francisco. (SFGATE)

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Los Angeles: partly cloudy, 75. San Diego: partly cloudy, 69. San Francisco: sunny, 72. San Jose: sunny, 88. Fresno: sunny, 95. Sacramento: sunny, 95.


Today’s California memory comes from Rene Beight:

I was in preschool but old enough to remember, so the year was probably 1989. My dad worked long days cutting concrete but got off early one day and surprised me at my daycare in Santee to swoop me off to Mission Beach. As I was frolicking in the surf with other kids, one screamed, and we all ran for the sand once we realized the cause for alarm: a giant, dead gray whale was washing ashore. I was distraught and wanted to go home, but my dad — knowing this could potentially traumatize me — instead took me to Mission Bay, where he promised there would be no whales. And I still love the beach to this day.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)


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