State Closes Budget Gap with Money from Welfare Recipients and Low-Income Children

Friday, June 22, 2012
CalWORKs is a welfare program that gives cash aid and services to eligible needy families.

Governor Jerry Brown and state Democratic leaders worked out the final details of a budget plan that still relies on voters approving an $8.5 billion tax hike in November and giant cuts now in social programs.

The Healthy Families program, which provides health insurance to almost 900,000 poor children, will be eliminated and the kids will be shifted to lower-cost Medi-Cal. Funding for state-supported child care will be cut 8.7% and welfare recipients will be subjected to stricter work requirements and tighter limits, but won’t have their monthly checks reduced. Parents on welfare will have two years to find a job, rather than the current four years, before taking a hit in benefits. The governor backed off his push to cut assistance to families where only the children qualify for benefits. 

Advocates for revamping the social safety net argued that it was reorganizing to make health care more efficient and take advantage of changes that might be dictated by President Obama’s health care reform, should the U.S. Supreme Court not eviscerate it in a decision expected next week.

Welfare advocates decried the moves. “The governor and legislative leaders have struck a short-sighted deal that unnecessarily puts the health of California children at risk,” said Wendy Lazarus, founder of The Children's Partnership.

Brown had also wanted to slash hours and services provided by InHome Support Services, which helps elderly, sick and disabled people avoid hospitals or nursing facilities. He wanted to cut the home workers’ hours 7% and remove some functions, like laundry service, from their responsibilities. Instead, a 3.6% cut in hours approved in 2011 will stay in effect.

A deal was also struck to reduce college aid under the Cal Grants program beginning in 2013-14. Students at private and for-profit schools will see their aid slashed thousands of dollars, while public school students emerged relatively unscathed.

More cuts loom should Brown’s tax initiative fail later in the year, with education scheduled to feel the most pain.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Jerry Brown, Democratic Legislative Leaders Reach Budget Deal (by Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times)

Budget Deal Moves 880,000 Low-Income Children to Medi-Cal (by Kevin Yamamura, Sacramento Bee)

State Leaders Reach Deal on Remaining Budget Bills (by Wyatt Buchanan and Marisa Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle)

Gov., Dems Announce Deal on Remaining CA Budget (by Judy Lin, Associated Press)

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