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Governor Proposes Balanced Budget

Governor Proposes Balanced Budget

A balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year was projected by Governor Brown on Thursday when he released his proposed budget plan. The big budget news is increased spending on k-12 schools. We want to focus on two areas we feel will have the most impact on the people that rely on the Food Bank.

California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Program.

CalWORKS provides cash assistance for 1.1 million low-income children as their parents find jobs. Significant cuts have been made to this program over the recent years including reducing General Fund spending on CalWORKS by $469 million in the current fiscal year. In the governor’s proposal, there is an increase of $142.8 million in state support for CalWORKS. This is to support counties as that implement programmatic changes. Otherwise the proposed budget maintains the curs that were made without reducing spending further.

Medi-Cal Program.

California’s version of Medicaid is called Medi-Cal and is a health coverage program serving approximately 8 million low-income children, parents, seniors and people with disabilities. Several cuts have been made to this program in recent years as well.

Governor Brown proposes two options for implementing the Medi-Cal expansion envisioned by the federal health care reform:

  1. A state-based approach that would build upon the existing state-administered program and a managed care delivery system, or
  2. a county-based approach that builds on the existing Low Income Health Program with the counties being the lead for the expansion.

Other proposals to Medi-Cal include:

  • Extend a current fee on hospitals that is scheduled to expire on December 31, 2013, resulting in General Fund savings of $310 million. The fee provides funding for children’s health coverage as well as supplemental payments for hospitals.
  • Implement unspecified “efficiencies” in Medi-Cal managed care in order to reduce General Fund spending by $135 million.
  • Require Medi-Cal enrollees to select their health plans during an annual open enrollment period and remain in that plan for a full year. This proposal would reduce General Fund spending by $1 million in 2013-14 and each year thereafter.

We will keep you posted on how the budget will impact low-income people in our community as the budget process continues.

The information in this article was adapted from the California Budget Project brief on the Governor’s proposal. You can read the full report here: http://cbp.org/pdfs/2013/130110_Gov_Budget_Release.pdf.

Assemblymember Yamada Marks June as National Hunger Awareness Month and Invites You to Take the Hunger Challenge

Guest post by Mariko Yamada, California Assemblymember, 8th Assembly District

Dear Friends,

In California, over 6 million people are hungry or live in fear of going hungry. As more Californians have difficulty making ends meet, the number of people receiving CalFresh/Supplemental Nutritional Assistants Program or SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) benefits has greatly increased. Still, according to federal statistics, California has the lowest participation rate of all the states. In Solano and Yolo counties combined, the under enrollment in CalFresh means we are missing out on an estimated $70.5 million in federal funds each year.

In order to draw attention to the importance and continued need of SNAP/CalFresh, I invite you to join me in taking the “Hunger Challenge” this year from June 11th to June 15th, 2012.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture which administers SNAP, the average weekly food stamp benefit is $22.30 – that’s $4.46 per day, or just $1.49 per meal. So the rules are simple: Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner spending only $1.49 a meal for five days or $22.30 total. The challenge is to see if healthy, tasty meals can be prepared on the same grocery budget used by millions of Americans receiving food assistance.

This will be my fourth year participating in the Challenge as a Legislator and every year I learn again just how difficult it is to avoid hunger, afford nutritious foods, and stay healthy with very limited resources. You can follow my experiences living on the food assistance budget and learn how you too can take the Challenge on both the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano County blog and the Food Bank of Yolo County blog.

To find out if you are eligible to receive CalFresh benefits, use this online tool. To find your local CalFresh enrollment office or to learn more on food assistance in Solano and Yolo Counties, please visit my website.

Together we can work to end hunger for all.

Sincerely,

Mariko Yamada
Assemblymember, 8th Assembly District

Safety Net Needed to Keep California’s Families Afloat

Our effort to end hunger doesn’t stop with bags of groceries for our neighbors in need — we also work toward policies that will create a culture in which hunger can be eradicated. These days, stopping cuts to our safety net are our top priority. Food Bankers, pantry and soup kitchen volunteers and staff, nutritionists, food bank supporters, homelessness service providers and others from across the state concerned about the more than 7 million Californians experiencing hunger marched and spoke to legislators on May 17 for Hunger Action Day. We made known that California can do better than a budget that asks only that our children, seniors and people with disabilities sacrifice again and again.

Hunger Action Day opening remarks

This year, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano along with the Monument Crisis Center, Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church food pantry and a community advocate volunteer joined 400 other California Hunger Action Coalition (CHAC) advocates at the Capitol. We heard personal stories from people who have benefited from the very programs the governor proposes to cut. Without the safety net their families would not have been able to improve their situations and make a better life for themselves. One woman had experienced a time of homelessness and through CalWORKS was able to go back to school. It was amazing to hear how she turned her situation around with a little help and she even earned her Bachelor’s degree.

Rally around the Capitol (photo by Monument Crisis Center staff)

Our group had 7 meetings with legislative staffers and asked our representatives to protect the most vulnerable among us — the children, seniors and working families we serve each day. The response we got each time was the Assemblymember/Senator supports what you are saying but it is going to be tough.

That’s why we need your help. Even if you weren’t able to join us in Sacramento yesterday, you can get involved now! Please help us send a CLEAR message to Governor Brown to save our safety net.

Governor Brown has proposed drastic cuts to our safety net programs, particularly CalWORKS, which would instantly cut 100,000 children out of the safety net and reduce families’ grants to what they were in the 1980s if his proposal is enacted. We need to stand up for our communities and fight against policies that balance our state budget on the backs of children, seniors and working-class families.

Use the sample email below to send a message to Governor Brown. You can contact him through his website. Please let him know what you think about his budget cuts and advocate for a budget that isn’t balanced on the backs of low-income children, seniors and the disabled.

Sample letter

Governor Brown,

Over 400 advocates from across the state went to Sacramento on May 17 to stand up against hunger, and call on you and the Legislature to stand down on your attacks against California’s safety net.

After three years and $15 billion in cuts to vital social programs, it is unconscionable to allow California’s safety net to be further dismantled at a time when our families need it most. When a family’s income falls short, the first place they cut is their food budget, leading to unacceptable hunger throughout our state.
Stop allowing the California’s child poverty rate to continue to climb dangerously and keep all Californians afloat. It’s just the right thing to do.

Sincerely,

Your name

Thank you to all the amazing advocates for their passion, energy and heart on Hunger Action Day and every day. It was an amazing experience and I hope you will join us next year!

If you want to learn more about the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano’s advocacy efforts and how you can help, please contact me at lsherrill@foodbankccs.org.

Governor Releases May Revision to 2012-2013 State Budget

The following is an excerpt from the California Budget Project’s report: Governor Releases May Revision: Tax Collections Down and Deeper Cuts Proposed, Highlighting Need for a Balanced Approach With Significant Additional Revenues. We have included information about cuts to the two programs most likely to impact Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano clients directly: CalWORKS and Medi-Cal.To read the full report, visit http://cbp.org/pdfs/2012/120514_May_Revise.pdf.

Governor Jerry Brown released the May Revision to his proposed 2012-13 budget on May 14. The May Revision updates policy proposals, revenue projections, and estimated expenditures for the current year as well as the upcoming budget year, which begins on July 1. The May Revision estimates a two-year budget gap of $15.7 billion, up from a $9.2 billion gap as estimated in January. The May Revision identifies lower-than-anticipated tax collections as the primary cause of the widening gap. The Governor outlines $16.7 billion in “solutions” to close the budget gap and provide a $1.0 billion reserve. Spending reductions make up nearly half ($8.3 billion) of the “solutions.”

In addition, the May Revision assumes that voters pass a tax measure that the Governor is attempting to place on the November 2012 ballot. The measure would temporarily increase personal income tax rates on very-high-income Californians and boost the sales tax rate by one-quarter cent, raising an estimated $8.5 billion in 2011-12 and 2012-13 combined. The May Revision specifies $6.1 billion in spending cuts – primarily to schools, colleges, and universities – that would automatically take effect in January 2013 if voters do not approve the proposed tax measure in November.

Regardless of whether voters pass the tax measure, the May Revision proposes deeper cuts to the Medi-Cal and In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) programs than those proposed in January. The May Revision also includes new proposals to reduce spending on state employee compensation by more than $400 million and to use the “cash assets” of redevelopment agencies – entities that were eliminated in February of this year – in order to offset $1.4 billion in state spending for schools and community colleges in 2012-13.

The Governor’s $16.7 billion in budget “solutions” include:

  • $8.3 billion in spending reductions, including a $1.2 billion cut to Medi-Cal, an $879.9 million reduction to the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Program, and deep cuts to IHSS, child care, the courts, and the Cal Grant college financial aid program;
  • $5.9 billion in additional revenues, nearly all of which is attributable to the proposed tax measure;
  • $2.5 billion in fund shifts, loan payment deferrals, borrowing from special funds, and other onetime measures; and
  • A $1.0 billion reserve.

The following update provides a “quick and dirty” summary of key provisions of the May Revision.

California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) Program

The May Revision includes most of the deep cuts proposed in January for the CalWORKs Program, which provides cash assistance for 1.1 million low-income children while helping parents to find jobs and overcome barriers to employment. The May Revision retains the Governor’s proposed CalWORKs restructuring, while making modifications that reduce the 2012-13 cuts to $879.9 million, slightly less than the $946.2 million reduction proposed in January.

Medi-Cal Program

The May Revision maintains the Governor’s January proposal to shift more than 1 million seniors and people with disabilities who currently qualify for both Medi-Cal and Medicare – so-called “dual eligibles” – from fee-for-service Medi-Cal into managed care. However, the May Revision modifies or clarifies the original proposal in a number of ways, including phasing in the integration of long-term care services as each county transitions into managed care, delaying the implementation date from January 1 to March 1, 2013, and specifying that IHSS participants would continue to “select and direct” their home care provider. The proposal, as modified by the May Revision, is estimated to reduce state spending by $663.3 million in 2012-13 and by $887 million per year when fully implemented. However, budget documents indicate that implementation would depend on achieving a “six-month stable enrollment period,” as well as on securing an agreement with the federal government that would allow the state to share 50 percent of the Medicare savings that result from this proposal.

 

Governor Proposes Harmful Cuts that Will Leave More Californians Hungry

In his 2012-13 budget proposal released yesterday, Governor Brown included $2.5 billion in cuts to safety net programs that serve low-income households at risk of hunger. These proposals come on top of difficult cuts in last year’s budget that contributed to a sobering $15 billion in cumulative cuts to health and human services made since 2008. If approved, the Governor’s cuts will increase hardship for low-income seniors and families, leading more to experience hunger and seek out already overburdened food banks for assistance. Initial analyses indicate the Governor is proposing cutting $946 million from CalWORKs, $842 million from Medi-Cal, $164 million from In-Home Supportive Services, $447 million from child care, and $87 million from various other health and human services. These cuts would mean significant reductions in vital services to the same vulnerable Californians who have been hit year after year by harsh cuts to safety net supports.

The overwhelming burden of the budget deficit cannot be carried by California’s most vulnerable, who are already suffering due to previous budget cuts. In a time of such great hardship we should not be weakening our social safety net even further. We should be pursuing more revenue solutions to balance our budget and restore essential services that will aid California’s economic recovery.

 

The Governor could hardly have proposed these cuts at a worse time. California food banks experienced a jump in demand for services of 30-50 percent with the onset of the recession, and demand has continued to climb ever since. Recent reports from the Food Research & Action Center based on extensive Gallup polling show that 20.5 percent of California residents (7.5 million), and a staggering 26.7 percent of California households with children, are struggling with food hardship as the recession lingers. Given these sobering numbers, there is little doubt that the Governor’s budget will drive demand even higher.

TAKE ACTION

Send a letter to your state representatives. To locate your State representatives, visit www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html. Tell them you are calling on the legislature to reject the Governor’s proposed cuts to essential health and human services and to move forward with a plan that restores our social safety net and protects California’s most vulnerable from worsening hardship. You can use the information above in your letter as well.

Please let me know if you send a letter and to which reps you send it to. If you have any questions, please contact me at lsherrill@foodbankccs.org.