FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2020
California’s 154 Billionaires Saw Net Worth Jump $175.4 Billion—
25.5% in First Three Months of COVID-19 Pandemic
- Growth in Billionaire Wealth a Stark Contrast to Recently Passed CA Budget Which Cuts Health & Vital Services of Vulnerable Californians in Absence of Federal Revenue, and Congress Stalls on New COVID-19 Financial Aid Package.
- Along with Federal Funds, Taxing the Windfall of the Ultra-Rich Could Raise Revenues Needed to Prevent Billions in Scheduled & Trigger Cuts to Medi-Cal & Many Other Programs.
- New Report from Health Access, Americans for Tax Fairness, and Health Care for America Now Lists All 154 Billionaires and Their Profits in Just Three Months While Over 5 Million Californians Lost Jobs, and 5,000 Have Died from COVID-19.
- Grassroots Surge of Support for Budget Equity in California, With Many Events Planned for this Week
WASHINGTON/CALIFORNIA—At the same time that the California Legislature was debating billions of dollars of budget cuts to health and other vital services during a pandemic and an economic downturn, California’s 154 billionaires collectively saw their wealth increase by $175.4 billion or 25.5% during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), Health Care for America Now (HCAN) and Health Access California. Another 11 Californians were newly minted billionaires during the same period.
Coming on the heels of a new California state budget that has billions of cuts deferred, scheduled, and subject to triggers, unless needed federal aid comes through, the new data provides a powerful argument for health, education, and other advocates seeking new federal funds and new state revenues, including taxes on the wealthiest, in order to prevent cuts and make needed investments in a time of great need. Grassroots energy for the concept of budget equity in California is driving multiple events throughout the state this week:
- Commit to Equity: Invest in Our Communities campaign holds car rally & press events (contact Rachel Linn Gish, email@example.com, 916-532-2128)
- Sacramento State Capitol, Monday, June 29th, 10:00AM Sacramento State Capitol
- San Francisco, Tuesday, June 30th, 9:15AM
- Fresno, Tuesday, June 30th, 11:00AM
- San Diego, Thursday, July 2nd, 9:00AM
- Los Angeles, Thursday, July 2nd, 9:15AM
- Car Caravan and Press Conference: On Wednesday, July 1st, renters, workers, and community/labor leaders including AFSCME 3299, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), SEIU USWW, UNITEHERE Local 11, UNITE HERE 2850, and UAW 2865, rally at wealthy, white enclaves where California’s billionaires and millionaires reside in the areas of Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego. (Contact Anya Svanoe, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-423-2452)
While the top five California billionaires made $70 billion in just three months, Governor Newsom proposed $14 billion in “trigger” budget cuts to key education, health, and human services needed in this public health and economic emergency. While most cuts were deferred in the final budget deal (the health care portions detailed on this scorecard), some cuts are still scheduled, unless federal aid materializes, like $1.2 billion in cuts to Medi-Cal providers. Still others, like denying health coverage to tens of thousands of low-income seniors—will be back on the table without federal aid or new state tax revenues.
“It’s incomprehensible that California Lawmakers have to make the choice to cut health care for seniors, low-income communities, and Black and brown Californians most at risk in the middle of a pandemic—without first asking more from our richest billionaires who are experiencing massive windfalls of additional wealth,” said Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. “A modest tax on those with the most can preserve health and other vital services for those with the least, and all that are struggling in this economic and public health crisis. If we don’t have significant federal aid and new state tax revenue on billionaires or corporations, Californians will see major cuts to education, health and other programs that we need more than ever now.”
The top five California billionaires—Larry Ellison, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Elon Musk—saw their wealth grow by 17%, 59%, 28%, 29% and 70%, respectively. In contrast, over about the same period of the pandemic, 5,134,000 of the state’s residents lost their jobs, 157,000 fell ill with the virus and 5,200 died from it.