Guest post by Sue Sigler, Executive Director of California Association of Food Banks: Last week Governor Brown signed a state budget package to close California’s $9.6 billion funding shortfall for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
While food banks across the state are relieved that a budget was passed without further cuts to the safety net, we are deeply disappointed that the budget does not include the modest temporary revenue extensions that Governor Brown had sought to help close the deficit. The revenue extensions were part of a balanced proposal to solve the state’s fiscal shortfall, which also included steep cuts. California’s low-income residents are now faced with $15 billion in cuts that hit safety programs especially hard and will continue to drive more people to food banks for assistance.
Instead of revenue extensions to bring down the deficit, the budget package anticipates $4 billion in additional revenue returns for the next fiscal year. However, if these extra revenues fail to materialize, automatic “trigger” cuts will take effect in January to make up the balance. The first tier of trigger cuts includes health and human services programs that provide vital support for our most vulnerable citizens.
The budget deal preserves several funding restorations in critical life-sustaining health and human services programs, including CalWORKS, childcare, and In Home Supportive Services. These restorations are the very least we should do to repair a frayed social safety net that has been weakened by over $15 billion in cumulative cuts made to health care and social services in state budgets since 2008, during a period of record unemployment and economic hardship.
The legislature’s inability to enact a budget solution with revenue extensions has once again highlighted the flaws in a budget process that allows a handful of legislators to override the priorities of a majority of Californians. Because a few legislators in Sacramento would not compromise on revenues, millions of Californians who struggle with hunger will bear the brunt of deep cuts made to balance the budget. California’s economic and family recovery will ultimately depend on the passing of real, sustainable revenue options that get our families back to work.
About the California Association of Food Banks
The mission of California Association of Food Banks is to provide a unified voice among food banks to maximize their ability to build a well nourished California.