Well, the annual budget passed – sort of – but without significant increases in funding for those without two pennies to rub together. The reason California Church IMPACT opposed Proposition 2 last year is that while it called for good stewardship over our fiscal resources, it took no account – none – of what people need. Placing budget stability ahead of, instead of alongside, human necessities is simply heartless and utterly irresponsible.
The Governor has become an intrinsic part of the Legislature’s decision making. Because he has line-item veto power, he can cut out anything he does not like. This year, rather than honor the Legislative Analyst’s Office projection of an additional $1.6 BILLION over the Governor’s May Revision, the Governor persuaded the Legislature to increase social service and education funding by a mere $61 million. That assessment of resources is very convenient – it means he does not have to consider using that money to restore critical supports that have been cut, cut, cut to balance earlier budgets.
What is within the budget is aimed at helping working families. We will have an Earned Income Tax Credit to supplement really low wages. That is good. The non-working poor – those on CalWORKs who do not have taxable jobs, those on disability support, and those with developmental disabilities all got left in the dust. Again.
While these issues transcend racial and ethnic lines, the perception that the poor are all “Welfare Queens” has infiltrated some of this discussion among policy leadership. Given the horrors of Charleston last night, the demonizing of people of color is particularly dangerous and morally odious. California’s “recovery” has been uneven and incomplete; it has impact many people. Those seeking to live – to subsist – are far from evil, not burdens, but are our neighbors seeking a hand under the elbow to get through their plight.
What was NOT funded –
-Assistance for those with developmental disabilities. Service centers may close, leaving families without supports at all for their family members with disabilities.
-The budget does not encompass funds by which to repeal the “Maximum Family Grant” that would allow families on CalWORKs to have an extra $120 per month for each child above the limit of two per family.
-CalWORKs recipients have not one penny increase in the cash allowance that has been severely cut over past years and from which they pay rent and utilities as well as durables such as toilet paper, clothes, etc. The cash grant is a little over $600 per month.
-SSI increases including plans for a Cost of Living Adjustment, have been eliminated.
-No increase in help for affordable, very-low income housing.
-No clarity on whether In Home Supportive Services hourly cuts in service will actually be permanently restored.
Advocates for individual programs are calling for a second summit on the budget. The Governor and leadership will hold two ‘extraordinary budget sessions’ on Medi-Cal and infrastructure, but we are calling for a third on alleviating deep poverty.
Please contact your Legislators and the Governor to DEMAND full funding for the programs that provide help and for a Third Special Legislative Session focused on solutions to deep poverty.
Go to: https://www.votervoice.net/CALCHURCHES/Home to find your Legislators.
Call or FAX the Governor:
Capitol office – 916-445-2841. FAX: 916-558-3160. (Note that the FAX is often busy or turned off.)
Los Angeles: 213-897-0322 FAX: 213-897-0319
San Francisco: 415-703-2218 FAX: 415-703-2803
Fiscal responsibility is a social good, but not when it becomes a basis for distorting how we address human necessities and providing for those most at risk in our society. Speak up for full funding of social programs today!