Gov. Gavin Newsom Announces California Will Eliminate Traffic Debt For Low-Income People Owed Since 2015

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Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom released his updated budget proposal for the 2021-2022 fiscal year Friday, which includes a provision that would eliminate debt from certain fines and fees owed primarily by low-income Californians.

The budget proposal calls for a $300 million fund from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan to support relief for low-income Californians through a one-time debt forgiveness program eliminating debt owed on traffic and non-traffic infraction tickets issued between Jan. 1, 2015 and June 30, 2021.

“Low-income Californians have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and they should not have to choose between paying these debts and providing basic necessities such as housing and health care for themselves and their families,” the proposal reads.

Under the proposed debt relief program, individuals could apply to have their debt eliminated by submitting an application verifying their low-income status. The one-time fund would cover implementation costs and make up for lost revenues that would otherwise have gone to courts and local governments.

Newsom, who is currently facing a recall, introduced his new “California Comeback Plan” during a press conference Friday afternoon. The $268 billion updated budget is one-third larger than the original spending plan submitted in January, a result of surging tax revenue and federal stimulus, KTLA reported. (RELATED: Newsom Didn’t Abuse Emergency Powers During Pandemic, Court Rules)

The updated budget includes a number of other proposals such as tax rebates of up to $1,100 for millions of households and more than $7 billion to help people cover rent and utilities, the Associated Press reported. One of Newsom’s flagship proposals is a $12 billion fund to end family homelessness in five years.

The governor said California’s current $76 billion surplus was an opportunity for the state to come “roaring back” from last year’s economic downturn. He also called the spending proposal an “unprecedented generational and transformational budget.”