Budget Update: Dismantling the Safety Net

The budget deal between Governor Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders passed both the Senate and Assembly on Friday, July 24. CalWORKs and other health and human service programs suffered deep and harsh cuts while nothing was done to bring in new revenue and therefore spread the sacrifice. Additionally, the deal expands finger imaging to In-Home Support Services, meaning the elderly and disabled will be forced to provide a fingerprint in order to receive services.

Despite the claims of legislative leaders, there is little doubt that these cuts go a long way in dismantling California’s safety net. While the shock of these cuts begins to sink in, it appears, but has not been confirmed, that the California Food Assistance Program and the Brown Bag Program survived without cuts – a silver lining to an otherwise dark cloud of a budget.

The deal cuts $528 million from CalWORKs by decreasing benefits and increasing sanctions for families that fail to meet work requirements. The bill also reduces children’s grants for the first time in the history of the CalWORKs program. These cuts will punish low-income families who cannot find work and therefore force these families to make difficult choices between food, rent, utilities and other basic needs.

Cost of Living Adjustments
This budget repeals SSP and CalWORKs COLAs along with COLAs for almost every area of the state budget except K-12 education and requires any new COLAs be approved by a two-thirds vote.

Click here for more details on the budget from the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

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