The second year of the coronavirus pandemic in California was shaped by two political undercurrents at the state Capitol: a budget awash with cash, thanks to a booming stock market and federal aid, and a looming recall election asking voters to throw Gov. Gavin Newsom out of office.
The massive budget surplus allowed Newsom and legislative Democrats to go big on a progressive agenda they believe will help the state recover from COVID hardships. They passed a $262.6 billion budget that includes preschool for all 4-year-olds, health insurance for low-income undocumented immigrants age 50 and older, and $600 stimulus payments for most Californians — landing in bank accounts just weeks before the Sept. 14 recall election.
But gobs of money and Democrats’ supermajority didn’t make everything possible. Tensions between moderate and liberal Democrats stymied many proposals. The recall threat also may have doomed some legislation that might have reflected unfavorably upon California and its governor. Bills that stalled included proposals to create single-payer health care, ban corporate donations to political candidates, legalize psychedelic drugs, sanction clinics where addicts can use illegal drugs under medical supervision, and allow people to turn their bodies into garden compost after death. Progressive legislation to allow more offenders to have their records expunged and overhaul the bail system also stalled amid concerns over California’s rising murder rate and an especially brutal killing in Sacramento.
Story continues at: Crazy Laws