Governor Newsom’s May Revision includes updated revenue estimates on California’s $21 billion dollar budget surplus. With the government reports of historic lows in unemployment and record highs in the stock market, California’s lawmakers need to make investments in California’s health and human services to strengthen the safety net for the 20% of Californians being pushed into poverty by the high costs of housing and health care. California Partnership is calling on Governor Gavin Newsom renew his campaign commitments to end the unconstitutional money bail system in California that leaves tens of thousands of people languishing in jails each year before they are convicted of any crime because they cannot afford to get out of jail. Punishment of people for being poor must end. Provide social services, healthcare (including mental health), bridge housing, and permanent supportive housing for California's homeless. Ensure California leads the way on a plan to guarantee quality healthcare for everyone financed through a single-payer model like Medicare. Ensure California residents have universal access to healthcare, regardless of their ability to pay, pre-existing conditions, or immigration status.
Many of the Governor's proposals will help those living in deep poverty in the wealthiest state in to wealthiest nation in the world. The proposal would increase CalWORKs grants beginning this October from $785 a month to $888 a month for a family of three. This would bring the grant to 50 percent of the federal poverty level. This budget also increases the Safety Net Reserve Funds available for CalWORKs and Medi-Cal services and benefits during an economic downturn, and will prevent grant cuts and service reductions experienced in prior downturns. This is the first time that reserve has been completely funded. Also are also excited that the governor is investing on child care. He included Holly Mitchell’s Strong Start CA for CalWORKS Families Senate Bill SB 321 which will streamline Stage 1 child care eligibility rules so that all CalWORKS families are afforded the same benefits.
The budget revision significantly increases eligibility and benefits for the state earned income tax credit program. The proposal includes a$900 credit for families with children under the age of six. The proposal also increases the maximum eligible earned income so that workers working full-time at $15 per hour will be eligible.
We also appreciate the Governor’s proposal to extend Medi-Cal eligibility to all income-eligible undocumented adults up to age 26. This expansion was expected to provide full-scope coverage to approximately 138,000 undocumented adults in the first year, making California the first in the nation to expand health coverage to young undocumented adults through a state Medicaid program. The reduction in the May Revise is based on a change in the estimates on the number of people who would be served. HIs proposal doesn’t go far enough. Not including Medi-cal Expansion to all undocumented adults and seniors leaves many people with the emergency room or no healthcare.
The revise included some adjustment of the governors January proposal on homeless spending. He cited his conversations with counties and said more of the money would be targeted at hotel vouchers and rent subsidies. California Partnership prefers the prior Navigation Center model. After a hotel voucher expires there is no housing available to rapidly rehouse into. The rent subsidies would be better spent on building low income housing rather than propping up already ski high rents. As part of the new Governor’s initiatives to reduce homelessness, the Governor has also proposed $25 million in ongoing funding for the Housing and Disability Advocacy Program (HDAP). This program provides matching funding to counties to engage in intensive SSI advocacy for disabled persons who are likely eligible for SSI. In addition to enhanced advocacy, HDAP provides housing assistance while SSI applications are pending, reducing homelessness for many people on county General Assistance. The January budget proposed $300 million in one-time funds to expand or develop emergency shelters and navigation centers. $200 million would be distributed to continuums of care and $100 million would go to the state’s 11 most populous cities.
The governor made no increase for the State Supplemental Payment (SSP), which was reduced in the Schwarzenegger Administration. The $77 a month reduction has never been restored. The state continues to benefit from this cut by $1 billion annually. The cost of living increase approved by the legislators will not go into effect until January 1, 2022.
The IHSS program was not mentioned in the revise. The January proposal has a 15.2% increase in General Fund costs which can be attributed to restoration of the 7% across-the board service hour reduction in IHSS service hours, revised county IHSS Maintenance-of-Effort, and caseload increase. The 7% reduction was restored due to the managed care organization (MCO) tax that is set to expire in 2019. The budget does not assume an extension of the tax, but proposes permanently restoring the 7% reduction through $342.3 million General Fund in 2019-20.