SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNN Newsource) — Gov. Gavin Newsom is blaming California’s $54 billion deficit directly on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Newsom told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that California had a $21.5 billion surplus, but will now have to slash education and other funds to pay for a shortfall.
Tapper asked the governor how much of the state’s financial crisis is a result of pre-exisiting financial obligations, Newsom said, “None.”
“None. That $54.3 billion is a direct result of COVID-19. Just a few months ago, I introduced my January budget, but with, again, a projected surplus. We paid off 100% of our debt we had inherited over seven or eight years ago. We were using $9.13 billion of the surplus last year to pay down long-term pension obligations,” Newsom said.
The governor also spoke to his recent request for more aid from the federal government.
“It’s not charity. I mean, a year ago, Jake, we were running a $21.5 billion surplus,” Newsom said. “And here we are at $54.3 billion budget deficit that is directly COVID induced.”
The Trump administration and Senate Republicans are currently resisting further federal economic spending.
“We have been managing our budget effectively, efficiently, paying down our long-term pension obligations. We had a bond rating that went up twice last year, the highest in decades,” Newsom said. “So we’re not looking for charity. We’re not looking for handouts. Social responsibility at a time when states, not just California, large and small, all across this country, cities and counties, large and small, all across this country, are facing unprecedented budgetary stress. It is incumbent upon the federal government to help support these states through this difficult time.”
A $3 trillion aid package passed by House Democrats Friday is expected to be dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate.