Sacramento Capitol Building image via wikipedia user Suvicce
Written by Edward Smith
Small business and non-profit advocates have come out in support of stimulus money directed at businesses from a bill authored by local legislators.
Senate Bill 74 — called the Keep California Working Act — allocates $2.6 billion be distributed to small businesses impacted by government-mandated closures. State senators Andres Borgeas (R-Fresno) and Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) are the principal co-authors on the bill.
The aid would have more stringent requirements than other business relief grants. Language in the bill limits eligibility to businesses with 100 employees or fewer. Applicants also have to demonstrate economic hardship related to the pandemic. Gross revenue loss would also be another calculation for grant eligibility.
Money would be focused “not on a first-come, first-serve basis, but on an equitable basis,” said Borgeas in a virtual press conference. Borgeas added that money would not go to entities that don’t need it.
Forty-one legislators have signed on as co-authors, representing one-third of total legislators to help push the bill forward in urgency status, which would allow the bill to become enacted as it is signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
First, the bill is going for review Jan. 11. and money could be available “within a matter of months,” according to Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach).
The potential dollar amounts of grant money has not been written into bill language yet, but Borgeas said that businesses would fall into six tiers.
President of the California Restaurant Association’s Fresno Chapter Chuck Van Fleet spoke at the virtual press conference.
The state could lose as many as 40% of restaurants, Van Fleet estimated.
“We need something that is going to support us as soon as possible,” he said.
He said that money from the first Paycheck Protection Program has run out, as has Economic Injury Disaster Loan money. Money from the second PPP round could take some time, he added.
“There used to be a time where we managed profit in an organized way,” Van Fleet said of restaurant owners. “Now, we’re managing loss. By keeping us alive, it’s not just us, it’s not just the employees, it’s the suppliers.”
In addition to money from SB 74, Newsom touted his own small business relief. In his proposed 2021-22 budget, Newsom would allocate $4.5 billion for businesses and jobs, according to a press release by the Governor’s office. Over $1 billion would go to small business grants. Grants would be up to $25,000 to micro and small businesses.
“These grants will be distributed across the state, with priority given to regions and industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, disadvantaged communities and underserved small business groups,” the release stated.
The proposed budget would also waive $70.6 million in fees for businesses impacted by the pandemic, including barbers, cosmetologists, manicurists, bars and restaurants.
Borgeas said that the Keep California Working Act would work together with the Governor’s proposed budget.
“When you add it all together, SB 74 is absolutely complementary to what the Governor has put forward,” he said.