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Citing costs, not the law, Gov. Newsom vetoes unemployment to undocumented immigrants

The California governor said the price of the program—not the spirit of the law, however—was the basis of his veto

October 12, 2022 12:53pm

Updated: October 12, 2022 12:54pm

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that passed the state Assembly and Senate that would have extended unemployment insurance benefits to undocumented immigrants and other purportedly in the U.S. unlawfully under the Excluded Workers Pilot Program.

The California governor said the price of the program—not the spirit of the law, however—was the basis of his veto.

With our state facing lower-than-expected revenues over the first few months of this fiscal year, it is also important to remain disciplined when it comes to spending, particularly spending that is ongoing. We must prioritize existing obligations and priorities, including education, health care, public safety and safety-net programs.

The Legislature sent measures with potential costs of well over $20 billion in one-time spending commitments and more than $10 billion in ongoing commitments not accounted for in the state budget.

Bills with significant fiscal impact, such as this measure, should be considered and accounted for as part of the annual budget process.

An estimated 140,000 undocumented migrants could have applied for benefits under the program, which would have permitted immigrants who could not legally work in the country to claim up to $300 per week for up to 20 weeks—as long the applicant could prove they are a California resident who has been unemployed for at least one week and they were ineligible for ordinary state unemployment insurance compensation.

Had the legislation passed, the state’s Employment Development Department would have administered the program separately from the state’s ordinary unemployment insurance program, which the agency administers for legal California residents who can legally work in the United States.

Under the state’s regular unemployment benefits program, claimants can get up to $450 per week for up to 26 weeks.

Newsom vetoed the bill on Sept. 28.

Unemployment compensation insurance is a program offering temporary financial benefits to qualifying laid-off workers who are actively looking for new employment.

Eligible individuals can get unemployment compensation to compensate part of their lost wages in the form of weekly cash benefits while they look for a new job.

Applicants apply through their state of residency, which maintains their own rules and regulations with U.S. government oversight.