CFPA Response to 2017-18 May Revise Budget
5.12.2017 Yesterday, Governor Brown released his 2017-18 state budget revision. This budget restores some of the cuts seen in the Governor’s January budget, but there were few major changes that build the well-being of low-income Californians.
Since the January budget was released, state revenue projections increased slightly, but are still down from last year. As in previous years, the budget prioritizes fiscal restraint, amidst strong predictions for a looming economic downturn. This year’s budget debate continues to move forward amid great uncertainty as to potential federal actions. The ongoing fiscal restraint hits struggling Californians the hardest, as many never felt the State’s economic recovery in their own household budgets.
California must be proactive and make investments that address economic instability, improve health, and provide a path for Californians to get ahead. This budget continues to leave out critical economic and nutrition support to low-income families. One major improvement over January’s budget is in the area of child care- the May Revise restores $210 million in child care rate increases promised in last year’s budget deal. However, the proposed budget continues to sideline critical issues that impact poverty and hunger, including affordable housing, SSI/SSP grants, and expanding the California EITC.
CFPA applauds the strong stand that Governor Brown and our Legislature have taken in asserting California’s intention to fight any harmful federal changes, most notably with the House’s recent and draconian AHCA bill. Now is the time to strengthen the state with a plan to invest in public services and systems. As Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon stated, "This is a better budget than the one the Governor proposed in January, and it shows the benefits of the responsible approach that we've been taking. While revenues are below what was projected, the state's fiscal position is strong, giving us the flexibility to avoid cuts and to make targeted investments." Link
CFPA looks to the Legislature to take action as budget negotiations move into the final stretch.
With respect to nutrition and income support for low-income Californians, the proposed 2017-18 budget includes:
CalFresh and Food Assistance: The revised budget makes no major funding changes to CalFresh since the January budget. CFPA, along with partners form the Drinking Water Coalition and various anti-hunger groups, urges the Legislature to include a request for temporary, supplemental CalFresh benefits for households in communities without safe drinking water, who shouldn’t have to decide between buying safe water or food. Act now to urge leaders to include this CalFresh Safe drinking water initiative in the final 2017-18 budget! Link
We applaud Governor Brown for including $2 million for CalFood funding in his May budget, which is critical for California’s food banks. This is a great step forward, but this amount doesn’t sustain our state’s emergency food system. Given the fear and uncertainty around public programs like CalFresh and WIC in the current political climate for Califorani’s immigrant residents, we urge the Legislature and Administration to allocate more funding to prevent an increase in hunger. link
The revised budget continues funding for the state and counties to implement the CalFresh ABAWD time limit by August 2018, which is much needed to prepare for the impending negative impactfor approximately 450,000 of California’s most vulnerable residents, who will become subject to this harsh and arbitrary time limit for needed nutrition benefits. link
CalWORKS & SSI/SSP: There are no proposals to increase economic support to California’s households in poverty through CalWORKs or SSI grants. The Governor’s budget assumes a 2.6% federal COLA increase to SSI grants starting in January 2018, but fails to provide a state COLA on the SSP portion of the grant. This will leave SSI recipients living at 90% of the federal poverty level, struggling to cover even the most basic needs of housing and food.
The lack of investment in CalWORKs is even more serious. Even as caseloads are declining, the proposed budget does not reinvest these savings to provide a COLA or grant increase for CalWORKS families in deep poverty. The maximum grant for a CalWORKs family of three is just 43% of the federal poverty level, which is completely insufficient to pay for basic living costs. The documented rise in homelessness among CalWORKS clients cannot be ignored any longer. The Legislature must consider the damaging external costs of keeping families in deep poverty, and how a CalWORKs grant increase or SSP COLA could mitigate further harmful effects upon families and communities.
Child Care: CFPA applauds the fact that Governor Brown restored the $500 million cut made to child care in his January proposal, which will avoid a severe reduction in access to child care for thousands of California families, and will help improve access to nutritious meals that young children often receive in childcare settings. link
Access to affordable childcare is a critical first step- but even now, an estimated 1.2 million eligible children lack access to care that could keep their parents in stable employment. The other critical step is access to high-quality care that supports the health and well-being of young children and their families. According to a new study by researchers at the University of Southern California and the University of Chicago, high-quality early childhood programs have a significant return on investment through better outcomes in education, health, employment, and social behavior for decades. The findings show high-quality early childhood programs can increase economic mobility for two generations by increasing wages and building careers for working parents over time, while children develop foundational skills that can lead to lifelong success.
School Nutrition: While the revised budget maintains a 1.48% COLA for categorical programs outside of the Local Control Funding Formula, including Child Nutrition, there are no further investments to support improvements in child nutrition programs that prevent child hunger and support student success. The revised budget maintains is an increase of $479,000 to support the Department of Education staffing and implementation of Child Nutrition Program Procurement Reviews.
Drinking water & drought relief: While the Governor has ended the drought declaration for most of the state, serious inequities in access to safe drinking water persist. The Budget provides emergency drinking water support for private wells, and extends an Office of Emergency Services program to provide water tanks for counties that remin in a drought, thought that funding expires after 2018. The revised budget still fails to identify sustainable, ongoing funding to move the state out of the piecemeal approach to addresses persistent drinking water issues.
The revised budget fails to make new, interim investments for communities with unsafe public water systems, who are often left waiting for years for long-term solutions. While sustainable solutions are sought, CFPA and coalition partners urge the Legislature to mitigate the cost of purchasing water for families at risk of hunger when local water supplies are unsafe to consume. Act now to voice your support for this investment! link
The Legislature will begin discussing the May Revise and other state budget items this week with the aim of finalizing their budget proposals shortly. All proposed budget items will be discussed during Conference Committee hearings. By midnight on June 15, the budget must be approved by the Legislature. After the Legislature approves the budget, the Governor can sign the budget for immediate enactment or veto individual items. By law, the new budget must be enacted by July 1.
Read the Revised 2017-18 Budget link
Learn more from the California Budget & Policy Center link
Questions? Contact Tracey Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510.433.1122 ext. 101