The federal government is giving California $27 billion in coronavirus relief funds, with California State Governor Gavin Newsom saying he plans to give away part of it to small-business owners who had to shut down their establishments during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsom said his goal is to get state lawmakers to use $1.5 billion of the funding to support a program that grants small businesses loans of up to $25,000. He said the financial help would not be required to be paid back. The program already has a funding of $2.5 billion, which would put $4 billion total if the proposal is approved.

Small Business Loans

The state governor said the program is the largest relief plan for small businesses in the United States. While many criticized California as in a state of decline, Newsom said the state is quickly getting back on its feet.

“People think our best days are behind it. You’re full of it. You have no idea what this state represents, and what it’s going to represent to the rest of the world,” Newsom said.

While California Chamber of Commerce President Allan Zaremberg praised Newsom’s program and said he supports it, he has his doubts. He said lawmakers should not pass “costly, onerous new regulations.”

“Let’s not forget, it is California’s successful businesses that have provided a once-in-a-generation budget surplus that will allow the state to address some of its most pressing needs,” said Zaremberg.

In December, Newsom also set up a grant program that would allow small businesses to apply for funding. However, the program only had $500 million to give away. Newsom and other lawmakers added $2 billion to the program in February, Spectrum News reported.

Businesses are required to have between $1,000 and $2.5 million in annual revenue to be eligible for financial support. They need to have also been operating since June 1, 2019, with a physical presence in California.