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California legislators considering $2.6 billion relief package for small businesses and employees

Restaurant Open 12-9-2020

Music played in the kitchen, while out front, the restaurant owner folded pizza boxes

Wishing he was folding a lot more, because business is way down, Jack Srebnik says state relief would help him keep the doors open at 3 restaurants he owns.

"We're trying to stay open for our employees, for our customers. This would be a big help to get us through," said Srebnik, while speaking at his restaurant in Rancho Mirage, The Slice.

The business owner is among those who were happy to hear about Senate Bill 74 which is now being considered by state lawmakers in Sacramento.

Called the "Keep California Working Act", it would provide $2.6 billion in grants to small businesses and employees who have suffered losses during the pandemic.

Srebnik has laid off more than half of his employees.

"It hurts as I said, we consider everyone who works here our family," said Srebnik.

Valley Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and State Senator Melissa Melendez are two of about a dozen co-authors for the legislation.

The measure includes an "urgency clause" which would allow the bill to take effect immediately upon approval.

"We have to ensure that we invest in these small businesses, given they are providers of significant amounts of local jobs here in the community and for the state," said Assembymember Garcia.

Small retailers are also hurting under current orders from the Governor and state health officials.

They're only allowed to operate at 20 percent capacity.

William Thomas is the owner of Desert Patio in Rancho Mirage.

Having already received PPP funds, he says state relief would also be welcome for his store, which is only seeing customers by appointment.

"There is going to be a substantial amount of money needed to keep the economy moving," said Thomas.

According to the author of SB 74, the $2.6 billion represents 10 percent of the state's projected budget surplus.

Garcia says it's a necessary investment.

State Senator Melissa Melendez provided a written statement to News Channel 3 regarding the measure.

"The State of Emergency proclaimed by the Governor has devastated California’s small business and nonprofit communities. Many have permanently closed, with more to follow.

The legislature absolutely has a moral obligation and duty to provide relief to our struggling small businesses," wrote Melendez.

Assemblymember Chad Mayes also provided a written statement.

“Small businesses, and their employees, are on the brink of fiscal ruin and in desperate need of real financial assistance. In fact, the non-partisan LAO recently encouraged the Legislature to use $13 billion for a “pandemic counteroffensive.” Small businesses have followed complex state health guidelines to their financial detriment. The legislature must act quickly to pass a measure like SB74 to provide much needed economic relief," wrote Mayes.

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Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

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