(Adds governor’s comments, context)
By Sharon Bernstein
SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 4 (Reuters) - Businesses damaged in protests over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was asphyxiated in police custody in Minneapolis, should be reimbursed for their losses, California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said on Thursday.
Newsom called on government as well as philanthropic organizations to help businesses, at a roundtable discussion on the dual impacts of the sometimes violent protests and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Stockton near the state capital of Sacramento.
“These businesses otherwise simply cannot survive,” Newsom said in audio shared with reporters after the event.
His remarks came as mourners filled a Minneapolis chapel on Thursday for a memorial honoring Floyd, whose fatal encounter with police sparked a storm of protests and civil strife that reached the gates of the White House and reignited a national debate about race and justice.
Financial assistance for small businesses that might be under-insured for the looting and damage they experienced might be in short supply, however, as governments across the United States wrestle with massive budget deficits caused by the near-total shutdown of the economy imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
In California, Newsom and lawmakers are wrestling over how to deal with an expected $54.3 billion budget deficit, a wild downward swing that was unthinkable before the pandemic, when the state projected a $5.6 billion surplus and $21 billion in reserves.
Newsom has proposed to cut salaries for state workers and dramatically scale back several ambitious programs to shore up the state’s social safety net that he had planned when the state was flush, but lawmakers are resisting budget cuts.
He said on Thursday that he expected to work out differences with the legislature before the next fiscal year begins on July 1. The deficit includes $13 billion projected for the current fiscal year. (Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Chris Reese and Muralikumar Anantharaman)