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Newsom to make $100 billion in news this week + ​AAPI documentary + Gender-less retail bill - 2

Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!

EYE-POPPING BUDGET NUMBERS

Via Adam Ashton...

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday revealed a simply staggering number. His administration is projecting a $75 billion surplus over the coming financial year, a windfall fueled by income gains among wealthy Californians who were just fine during the coronavirus pandemic.

That kind of money buys a lot of friends.

He’s coupling it with the $26 billion the state’s expected to receive from the federal through the stimulus President Joe Biden signed to craft a $100 billion California comeback plan. You’ll see the governor around the state leading up to Friday when he’s scheduled to release his May revise budget.

Just one year ago, Newsom’s budget was full of bad news. He projected a $54 billion deficit in the pandemic and took steps to cut public employees’ pay, reducing spending on universities and delay other payments.

What a difference a year makes.

Newsom already unveiled what he wants to do with about $20 billion of the extra money.

Top Democrats already signaled they’re on board with Newsom’s proposals. Budget Committee leaders Assemblyman Phil Ting and Sen. Nancy Skinner joined him in announcing the stimulus.

That gives Newsom $80 billion of more news to make this week.

REPUBLICANS PAN NEWSOM’S STIMULUS ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s safe to say California Gov. Gavin Newsom had a newsy Monday. He announced an expanded drought declaration and revealed that the state is looking at a $75.7 billion surplus.

Oh, and there was that whole stimulus thing.

But while Democrats and left-leaning groups were quick to praise the governor for sending support to California’s hardest hit communities in the form of a $600 check, $1,100 for families with children, California’s Republicans were less impressed.

“It’s amazing what a looming recall will do, as Gavin Newsom prioritizes his political career over addressing the problems that will put California back on track,” California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said in a series of tweets Monday.

“While it’s nice to see Newsom acknowledge that people are struggling under his incompetence, a one-time payment does not make a permanent recovery,” she wrote.

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, an outspoken critic of Newsom’s, said in a tweet that ““Other states don’t need a $100 billion ‘Comeback Plan’ because they’ve been back for some time while also having better health outcomes than California.”

He later tweeted, “Massively overtax people, squander the proceeds through graft, and return small sums as a “gift” at opportune times. It’s the playbook of corrupt regimes.”

Kiley’s colleague in the Assembly, Republican James Gallagher of Yuba City, said in a series of tweets that he is supportive of what he called the “Recall Refund,” offering a bit of back-handed praise for the governor’s announcement.

“The California government has surplus revenue and putting this money back into the hands of taxpayers is the right thing to do. It’s really the least the Newsom could do considering the devastation caused to jobs and small businesses, the failure to provide timely unemployment assistance and the release of dangerous prisoners who are going to plague our communities for years to come. Actually, this one-time refund seems pretty small when you consider the totality of his mismanagement,” Gallagher wrote.

BONTA FEATURED IN DOCUMENTARY

California Attorney General Rob Bonta will be featured in a documentary that is airing Thursday at the Center for Asian American Media Film Festival.

The documentary, titled “The Race Epidemic,” tells the story of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders “and their unique history in the broader context of racism in America,” according to a statement released about the film.

The documentary features interviews with Bonta, Rep. Judy Chu, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Assembly members David Chiu and Evan Low, as well as Thomas Saenz, of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“A lot of people see the anti-immigrant rhetoric in action from the Federal Administration as a Latino issue, it is not simply a Latino issue, it is a human issue for sure but also very much an Asian issue. Our community is under attack with this anti-immigrant rhetoric,” Bonta says in his interview, according to the statement.

Ronald Wong, the writer and producer of the documentary, said in a statement that “a deep understanding of each other’s history and struggles is fundamental to us coming together as a nation. Unfortunately, in times of economic uncertainty and fear race has been used to divide us. This film can help people understand we are all in this together, and when one of us is attacked we all suffer.”

You can watch a trailer for the documentary here.

CONSERVATIVE GROUP OPPOSES GENDER-LESS RETAIL BILL

The Bee has written about AB 1084, Assemblyman Low’s bill to ban big retailers from selling children’s toys and accessories in gendered sections before.

Now, the conservative California Family Council is taking notice. The group released an email blast on Monday afternoon, decrying the bill under the headline “CA Legislators Seek to Force Stores to Sell and Display Gender-Fluid Clothes.”

The bill doesn’t actually do that. What it does do is force retailers with 500 or more employees — think Wal-Mart or Target — “to maintain undivided areas of its sales floor where the majority of those items being offered are displayed, regardless of whether an item has traditionally been marketed for either girls or for boys,” according to the legislative digest for the bill.

The bill was written with the help of Rob Smith, founder and CEO of a gender-free fashion brand called “The Phluid Project.”

The California Family Council accused Smith of writing a bill that would benefit his business by forcing retailers to carry his brand.

“You have to give Rob Smith credit; he’s found quite an audacious marketing plan in asking Sacramento to force California retailers to make room for his products,” California Family Council President Jonathan Keller said in a statement. “But activists and state legislators have no right to force retailers to espouse government-approved messages about gender. It’s a violation of free speech and it’s just plain wrong.”

The bill doesn’t force retailers to carry specific products.

It’s worth noting that Low said his bill was following the lead of retailers like Target, which in 2015 decided to abolish gendered kids sections.

“As much as I’d like to think of this as watershed legislation, this is something the industry is already doing. We’re just trying to play catch up,” Low told the Bee in a previous interview.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Hey, all you reporters out there feverishly covering every move of @Caitlyn_Jenner . You seem to be ignoring the literal elephant in her room. @CAGOP homophobic base voters aren’t going to vote for a TG woman. There, somebody needed to say it.”

- California Democratic consultant Garry South, via Twitter. Thoughts?

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