Gov. Gavin Newsom this week proposed a $4.5 billion spending plan for 2021, a budget that adds $575 million to the $500 million the state set aside in November to provide small businesses with grants between $5,000 and $25,000.

Newsom’s proposal seeks a total of $1.075 billion for the State’s Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program, with priority given to “regions and industries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, disadvantaged communities and underserved small business groups.”

The proposal includes $25 million dedicated for small cultural institutions, such as museums and art galleries, that have been unable to operate or are otherwise financially challenged by the pandemic. Coupled with the federal Save Our Stages Act, which was approved as part of the $900 billion federal stimulus package in December, provides $15 billion “in dedicated funding for live venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions. That could bolster the 94941 sector most ravaged by the COVID-19 crisis: live music, theater and entertainment venues like the Sweetwater Music HallThrockmorton Theatre and Marin Theatre Company, which have been thrashed by their complete inability to gather people in a room to experience live music and performance since mid-March. 

In what should be good news for a large part of the economic pie chart in Mill Valley, Newsom’s proposal also calls for $71 million in fee waivers for bars, restaurants, barbershops, hair and nail salons and other sectors that have been required to close down or limit their capacity during the pandemic. 

The proposal would also extend a popular tax credit for small businesses. Many businesses had to lay off or furlough workers because of the pandemic. Last year, Newsom signed a law that promised to give small business owners a tax break if they hired those workers back. Business owners got a $1,000 credit on their state tax bill for the net increase of each new worker between July 1 and Dec. 1. Newsom said more than 9,000 businesses have reserved $54 million of those credits so far. His proposal would spend $100 million to extend that program, but offered no further details.

The plan also calls for $765 million for job creation and economic development efforts, including $430 million to increase a tax credit for businesses that relocate to or grow in California, $100 million to extend a hiring tax credit for small businesses and $100 million to defray sales taxes on manufacturing equipment.

The governor also proposes supporting job growth through a $353 million funding increase for worker training and apprenticeship programs; $300 million in one-time money to tackle deferred maintenance and greening projects, such as the installation of electric vehicle charging stations at state buildings; and $500 million in grants to bring down the cost of housing developments.

The proposed budget places a massive emphasis – $1.5 billion – on encouraging people to buy electric cars and build the charging stations necessary for drivers to use them, part of Newsom’s goal to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars in California by 2035.

In a normal year, California’s budget would not take effect until July 1. But Newsom said he will ask the Legislature to approve the money for small businesses before July 1

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