SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California Governor Gavin Newsom has a stark message for Republican lawmakers -- if the federal government doesn't give financial aid to California, they'll only be punishing first responders.
"I hope they'll consider this, the next time they want to salute and celebrate our heroes and first responders, our police officers and firefighters, consider the fact that they are the first ones that will be laid off by cities and counties," Newsom told CNN's Jake Tapper during a Sunday morning interview when asked what will happen if California doesn't get federal aid.
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"The folks that are out there, the true heroes of this pandemic, our healthcare workers and nurses, those county health systems have been ravaged, their budgets have been devastated and depleted," he continued. "They're the first ones to be laid off."
Newsom has called on President Donald Trump and Repbulican lawmakers to pass the HEROES Act -- the $3 trillion stimulus legislation passed by House Democracts last week that would send federal aid to state and local governments.
Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested the package is dead on arrival and called the legislation a "totally underious effort" by Democrats to address the coronavirus pandemic.
President Trump also accused state governments of trying to make up for "25 years of bad management." Newsom pushed back on that notion.
"It's not charity," he said on CNN, adding that a year ago California was "running a $21.5 billion surplus and here we are at $54.3 billion dollar budget deficit that is directly covid induced."
"I'm not looking to score cheap political points, but I do want to make this point," he continued later, "We have an obligation, a moral and ethical obligation to American citizens all across this country to help support cities, states and counties."
During a news briefing in Napa on Monday, Newsom was asked to clarify his comments about first responders. He said given how local city and county budgets work "no one should be surprised" that police officers, firefighters and other essential workers will be some of the first to be cut.
"I'm not here by any stretch of the imagination to suggest or even to allow the implication that somehow we're pitting one group against another," Newsom said. "The magnitude of these budgets nominally is personnel at the county and city levels."
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