California’s Department of Finance announced that the state faces a mammoth $54 billion COVID-19-created deficit which will, going forward, put the state’s countless public services at risk. Gov. Gavin Newsom projected an 18 percent unemployment rate, a 21 percent drop in new housing permits and a 9 percent decline in personal income.
The grim statistics are worse than at any time during the Great Recession. Newsom described the newest economic forecast as “jaw-dropping,” with COVID-19 wiping out California’s $16 billion rainy day fund and General Fund revenues projected to decline over $41 billion.
State officials anticipate that K-12 schools, community colleges, health care and social service programs are in jeopardy unless California gets a federal bailout. California’s critics who claim Newsom’s over-reaction to COVID-19 contributed to the deficit – Newsom is the first governor to demand that all his 40 million residents stay at home – nevertheless credit the governor with moxie for petitioning the feds for billions in emergency funding. This is the same Newsom that has sued President Trump’s administration more than 60 times, and has at various times called the president “a bully,” “a joke and a racist.”
Given the irrational hostility that Newsom and his Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has publicly echoed the governor’s sentiments, have demonstrated, President Trump should demand a quid pro quo before he signs off on a California financial assistance package.
President Trump could offer funding in exchange for California enforcing, instead of illegally defying, federal immigration regulations. A Federation for American Immigration Reform report found that of the nation’s total $116 billion annual cost to subsidize illegal immigration, California ranked the most dependent on taxpayer subsidies at $23 billion per year.
Broken down, the $23 billion doled out to California’s roughly 3 million unlawfully present illegal immigrants and their children includes $8.1 billion to offset education costs, $7.4 billion to cover medical and other welfare-related services, and $2.8 billion paid into the justice system.
A good starting point for the Trump administration before he approves California funding would be to demand that Newsom revoke several disastrous laws that his predecessor Jerry Brown signed. The California Values Act, SB 54, eliminated many commonsense procedures regarding illegal immigrant violators. SB 54 forbade California law enforcement personnel from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Unless ICE has a federal court-issued warrant, or the perpetrator is a sex offender or has committed some other major crime, the jailed illegal alien cannot be turned over to federal authorities.
Another law, the Employment Acceleration Act of 2011, banned state agencies from requiring private employers use E-Verify which would ensure that only citizens and legal immigrants can keep recently obtained employment. E-Verify is an especially important program for American workers in post-COVID-19 recovery period. Since mid-March, more than 4 million unemployment claims have been filed in California.
Finally, Newsom should end California’s sanctuary state status, an open invitation for illegal immigrants to come to California, work and take advantage of the state’s nonenforcement laxity. California and 20 of its counties have declared themselves sanctuaries.
For more than a decade, California has advocated for illegal immigrant privileges dating back to 2011 when it approved in-state college tuition rates to nonresidents. Subsequent administrations followed up with issuing driver’s licenses to aliens and providing health care coverage for alien children.
The math on the proposed tradeoff – immigration enforcement in exchange for bailout money – is interesting. If California were to cooperate with the White House on immigration enforcement, the $54 billion deficit could be nearly eliminated within two years – $23 billion per year times two years equals $46 billion in alien expenditures saved.
California can’t have things both ways. Flagrantly flouting immigration laws, trashing President Trump, and then putting its hand out and expecting to receive billions is unfair to the 41 million unemployed Americans who abide by the rules.