There isn’t much hope that stimulus checks will be a thing in 2022, even with the Omicron Variant causing COVID-19 cases to soar, but the possibility of new payments may not have officially been ruled out—at least in California.

Following the release of the third stimulus check in March 2021, federal aid to help Americans during the COVID-19 came virtually to an end. While some still received funds in the back half of the year for the Expanded Child Tax Credit, blanket checks from the federal government stopped. Other aid, such as moratoriums on evictions and extra unemployment, also came to an end. However, with the money state governments received from the economic stimulus packages, some were able to cut checks for their residents. California was one such state, with the “Golden State Stimulus” checks giving money to most residents through the end of 2021.

However, a continuation of those checks was not announced for 2022-but Governor Gavin Newsom has admitted the idea of them isn’t officially off the table just yet. While unveiling a $286 billion budget proposal for the year on Monday, Newsom was asked about surplus funds in the state and whether they would be used to make another round of payments. According to Fox 40, he wasn’t able to give a direct yes or no but seemed positive that if circumstances called for it, another round of checks could come to fruition.

“That’s an open-ended question,” he said when asked about the possibility of stimulus checks.

While the current budget does not include a stimulus check payout, the state’s limit on budget surplus, also known as the “Gann limit,” means that after a certain benchmark, the state has to return money to taxpayers. As of now, the budget year, which begins on July 1, the budget is expected to have a surplus of $31 billion, and as of the January numbers, Newsom expects to exceed the Gann limit by $2.6 billion. He would expect to give half that amount to education and the remaining half to taxpayers.

However, he isn’t confirming if the money will come in the form of stimulus checks because the figures could change, and he doesn’t want to make any promises he can’t keep.

“[The figure] will...most likely substantially change between now and May,” he said. “So we are awaiting more contemporary information and data, more reflected of what is currently happening before we had to put this budget to bed to ultimately make that determination.”

However, Newsom did seem confident that taxpayers would receive some sort of funds, even if it wasn’t called a stimulus, though the amounts would also be uncertain.

As for federal stimulus aid, it appears the idea of checks has been taken off the table completely, as President Joe Biden and other Democrats try to turn their attention to getting his Build Back Better proposal—which includes funding for climate change reform and social programs, as well as a one-year extension of the Expanded Child Tax Credit—passed. The legislation is currently stalled because all 50 Senate Democrats are needed in order for it to pass through the Reconciliation process, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is holding out on his vote and has stated he won’t support the bill’s high price tag.

Representation. A COVID-19 stimulus check. Pixabay