A number of U.S. governors have now offered high-dollar incentives using taxpayer dollars for residents to get vaccinated from COVID-19, but California Gov. Gavin Newsom — who is facing a recall over his handling of the pandemic — is breaking the bank with a $116.5 million "giveaway."
What are the details?
"CA is launching a $116.5 MILLION GIVEAWAY for vaccinated Californians!" Newsome tweeted Thursday. "$15 MILLION in cash prizes for 10 winners selected 6/15 $50k for winners on 6/4 & 6/11 Already vaccinated? You're entered. Not vaccinated? Next 2 million that get fully vaccinated can ALSO get a $50 card."
The Daily Caller reported that the program, dubbed "Vax for the Win," is "open to most residents age 12 and older, regardless of their immigration status," but there are some who are ineligible such as incarcerated individuals and certain government employees.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the funds for the "giveaway" will "initially come out of the state's general fund but will later be backfilled by federal funding from the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that Congress passed last year."
The first governor to implement a vaccine lottery scheme was Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), who offered up five $1 million prizes for vaccinated adults with dollars pulled from "existing federal Coronavirus Relief funds."
DeWine's plan received mixed reviews on social media, with some people calling the lottery a waste of taxpayer dollars, and others arguing it would likely be more effective than high-dollar government-funded marketing campaigns urging people to get vaccinated.
The first winner in Ohio's "Vax-a-Million" lottery was 22-year-old mechanical engineer Abbigail Bugenske, who initially thought the call from the governor was a prank. She says she intends to invest her winnings.
DeWine told CNN this week that his lottery has helped boost his state's vaccination rate by 45%.
Not Newsom. The California governor is pouring $110 million more than DeWine into his "giveaway."
"Getting every eligible Californian vaccinated is how we bring our state roaring back from this pandemic," Newsom said in a press conference. "California has already made incredible progress in the fight against COVID-19, with the lowest case rates in the country while administering millions more vaccines than any other state. But we aren't stopping there. We're doing everything it takes to get Californians vaccinated as we approach June 15 to help us fully reopen safely."