Taxpayers will pay restaurants to make meals for millions of California’s seniors during the coronavirus pandemic, an initiative that could pump billions of dollars into a devastated industry while generating sales tax collections for cash-strapped local governments, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday.
California has about 5.7 million people 65 and older and it’s not known precisely how many will be eligible, though Newsom said he expects it will be millions. To qualify, seniors must earn below 600% of the federal poverty level, which is $74,940 for an individual and $154,500 for a family of four. They also must have either been exposed to the virus, have a high risk for exposure or a compromised immune system.
A qualifying senior will get up to $66 per day for three meals at local restaurants that meet certain criteria. If 2 million people sign up and get all three meals a day, the price tag would be about $4 billion per month.
California has been under a mandatory stay-at-home order since March 19 and restaurants aren’t allowed to seat customers. Many restaurants have tried to shift their business to take-out and delivery, with varying levels of success.
California restaurants have laid off 70% of their workers since March, or about 1 million people, according to a survey by the National Restaurant Association.
Likewise, sales tax collections for local governments have dried up because so many retail businesses are closed and restaurants and many other essential businesses that are open are doing only a portion of their normal business. The League of California Cities said they estimate local governments will lose $6.7 billion over the next two years because of the coronavirus.
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By: adam beam
april 24, 2020