Tech

Top execs from Netflix, Disney, Salesforce and more call on Congress to provide $1 trillion in coronavirus relief to local governments

Key Points
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom's task force on business and jobs recovery is asking Congress for $1 trillion in pandemic relief for all states.
  • The Task Force, which includes California business leaders like Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger and Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, sent a letter to House and Senate leaders on Friday asking for more state and local funding.
  • The House passed a new $3 trillion relief bill on Friday that includes $1 trillion to boost local governments, but the Republican-led Senate is not expected to approve it.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom presents his first state budget during a news conference, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli | AP

Top business leaders in California are urging Congress to approve an additional $1 trillion in spending to head off massive budget cuts facing all state and local governments due to Covid-19.

In a letter to Congress, members of California Gov. Gavin Newsom's task force on business and jobs recovery wrote, "the worst of the economic impact [is] likely still to come."

The letter, which was sent Friday, was signed by nearly 100 business leaders including Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Priscilla Chan of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (and wife of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg), Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz of the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. You can read the full list of the task force's members here.

"Reopening our economies is a welcome step forward, but the success of our efforts ultimately relies on building greater confidence among consumers that it is safe to shop and greater certainty for workers that the services they rely on to do their jobs will remain in place. Without that, we will be a re-opened economy in name only."

They said the funds would be critical to help necessary programs such as contact tracing and testing.

"Because of the sudden drop in economic activity, many states, including California, will be forced to make deep cuts to programs that help those same individuals," the letter said.

The letter went on to say that without additional assistance from the federal government, child care, job training and small business support "will all be forced up on the chopping block."

The letter is addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The request comes on the heels of the Trump administration and Senate Republicans pushing back against the bill passed by the House to spend an additional $3 trillion for Covid-19 relief. The legislation, which the House of Representatives passed Friday, includes $1 trillion in funding for cash-strapped state and local governments. The Republican-controlled Senate is not expected to pass the House's package.

"It will protect core government services like public health, public safety, public education and help people get back to work. This funding will help our states and cities – and America's economy – come out of this crisis stronger and more resilient," the letter said of the $1 trillion in funding for local governments.

Newsom formed the task force in April to help Californians recover as fast as possible from the economic fallout.

On Thursday, Newsom announced a grim revised budget plan that would slash billions in order to tackle a massive $54.3 billion state deficit, which he says is a direct result of Covid-19.

Newsom said he anticipates the unemployment rate to climb up to 25% as the pandemic continues to hit the economy.

You can read the full letter from the task force below:

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy and Leader Schumer:

Thank you for your leadership during this unprecedented crisis. As members of the California Governor's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery, we are non-political leaders from different sectors of the economy with the same goal: protecting the health of the 40 million Americans who call our state home and laying the foundation for California's – and America's – economic recovery. We write to you in our individual capacities and not on behalf of our firms and organizations.

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how we will manage our businesses and organizations going forward, with the worst of the economic impact likely still to come. Reopening our economies is a welcome step forward, but the success of our efforts ultimately relies on building greater confidence among consumers that it is safe to shop and greater certainty for workers that the services they rely on to do their jobs will remain in place. Without that, we will be a re-opened economy in name only.

State, local and tribal governments are critical to our recovery. In the short-term, they must be able to scale-up necessary programs, like contact tracing and testing. Given budget shortfalls, they are also soon facing impossible decisions – like whether to fund additional safety measures related to COVID-19 that will help businesses reopen more quickly or prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other first responders. Without additional assistance from the federal government, the very programs that will help people get back to their lives and get back to work – from childcare to job training to small business support – will all be forced up on the chopping block.

We deeply appreciated the quick financial assistance Congress provided workers, businesses and those who have been displaced by this unprecedented crisis. But now, because of the sudden drop in economic activity, many states, including California, will be forced to make deep cuts to programs that help those same individuals. We stand with business leaders throughout the nation, from both sides of the aisle, who have respectfully and urgently requested that Congress direct $1 trillion in direct and flexible relief to states, tribes and local governments. It will protect core government services like public health, public safety, public education and help people get back to work. This funding will help our states and cities – and America's economy – come out of this crisis stronger and more resilient.

We urge you to have Congress take swift action and thank you once again for your leadership in this national crisis.

Sincerely,

Governor's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery

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