|Fall 2007 Newsletter||The California Partnership is a statewide coalition of community based organizations that fights poverty in California. We work together for our common goals by organizing and advocating at the local, state and national levels for the programs and policies that reduce and end poverty.|
Fall Greetings to Members, Allies and Friends
Greetings! Welcome to the Fall issue of the California Partnership Newsletter. Traditionally what comes from this time of year is a break from the heat, kids returning to school and the end of the legislative session -- all of which means some measure of relief. However, that relief has been postponed after a delayed budget signing, a deferred health care bill and Governor lacking in leadership.
It has been a challenging year to say the least, but one thing that shines through the fog of actions, activities and anomalies is your collective tenacity. And though not all battles resulted in a win, your fighting spirit never waned. It is this spirit that makes us hopeful for the upcoming year. As we move into the season of turning leaves, comfort food and the most celebratory time of the year, we can also reflect upon the opportunities for 2008. The upcoming Presidential election has everyone's attention and lends an opportunity to change the direction of our country. Locally and nationally strategies are being discussed to transform the dialogue of politics to rebuild a country on a platform of solidarity. And, we are becoming more and more creative in raising the awareness of the general public. Stay strong folks, you are making a difference! Every battle fought may not have always ended with an immediate win, but the fact that we are still here, still in the game and not going anywhere is the greatest win of all.
The California Partnership Staff
Swimming Upstream - State Budget Fight Ends
After one of the longest delays ever, a state budget was signed into law on August 24th. State Republicans initially rejected the Assembly version of the budget that had been voted out of the lower house weeks earlier and sent to the Senate. The budget stalemate impacted the operations of medical providers and clinics who received Medi-Cal patients, social service programs that funded senior centers, as well as childcare providers who were paid by the state.
In particular, Republicans were holding out for cuts in the CalWORKs program that both the Assembly and Senate budget committees had previously rejected. The Senate finally passed a budget very similar to that passed earlier by the Assembly after assurances from the Governor to use his line-item veto power to make further cuts.
CAP Fights Back
California Partnership, with our members and allies, held strong against the Republicans' all-out attack on CalWORKs, and prevented them from cutting off 200,000 children.
In July and August, CAP organized call-in days generating hundreds of calls to the Governor's office and targeted legislators. On August 20th, CAP held coordinated media conferences in San Diego, Oakland and Los Angeles to highlight that children were the primary targets of the cuts. At the Los Angeles action, Levi Kingston, Founder of The Hoover Intergenerational Care/Child Development (HIC) Center, a child care agency explained "Children don't vote and they don't have any money, and they are the ones most impacted."
CAP's media coordinated actions were covered by more than 15 media outlets across the state, and the Senate passed its budget the next day.
While the worst of the CalWORKs cuts were stopped, the Governor held true to his promise, and made line-item vetoes totally $703 million, mostly to health and welfare programs. A few of his cruelest cuts included:
Once again cost-of-living adjustments (COLA's) for families receiving CalWORKS were a casualty of the budget. This is the third year in a row that the COLA has been suspended. CalWORKs grants remain at 50% below the poverty line - and are the same amount they were in 1989!
The elderly and disabled also took a hit, even after state leaders insisted they would not be hurt. The budget shifts the effective date of the state COLA for Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) grants to June 1 of each year starting in 2008. This five-month delay hurts one of our most vulnerable groups in order to give the state a one-time state savings.
CAP to the Governor: "We'll Be Back!"
While the rumors are that next year's budget could be worse than this year's, CAP is already planning our next budget campaign. We've begun discussions with state officials and are looking at more effective ways to get out our message. If you'd like to be part of this, contact Nancy at [email protected].
Community Conversations: Should We Use the Word Welfare?
Some of us have been debating what the word welfare means and whether we should even use it. In this newsletter, we are sharing the viewpoint of Jenny Bapp, formerly an organizer with LIFETIME. Let us know what you think about her perspective, and we'll keep the dialogue going on this and other isses.
The word "welfare" remains a bad word. When many people hear the term "welfare" stereotypical images fly freely inside their minds - lazy, bunch of kids, bonbons, beer, and Cadillacs. The truth is families on welfare are hard working families. It is important for us to use the word welfare, so there is a social understanding of the true representation out there of what is really happening in the world of welfare. By taking ownership of the word, we are creating new images, ones with generations of family members wearing their cap and gown from their college graduation ceremonies. We can use the word "welfare" to celebrate the successes of those who have made it past the struggle of poverty and for those who are continuing to struggle to make better lives for their families. We can use the word "welfare" when we describe the majority of mothers receiving it have been victims of domestic violence. If we are too afraid to use this word, we leave it to the less insightful to create a meaning which is often hurtful and discriminatory.
Welfare, welfare, welfare.... no need to break out the bar of soap.
Health Care: The Perfect Storm 2007
With debates raging at the state and federal level, the fight for real health care reform can truly could be referred to as the perfect storm. The state leaders are locking horns as they debate competing plans, and federal leaders are following suit with respect to children's health insurance. Ironically, these plans impact one another: California has the tradition of setting policy for the rest of the country and the federal debate over funding children's health care impacts states' ability to increase it.
Health of the State
AB 8, Speaker Nunez's proposal to provide health coverage to Californians, initially failed to cover a significant portion of Californians, ensure cost control for medical services or guarantee protections for the safety net. However, after much (and relentless) pressure from advocates, AB8 now includes:
AB 8 passed out of both houses with its new dress and was ready for prom. Nonetheless, Governor Schwarzenegger had already stated that he wasn't going to the dance with AB 8. Instead, he has called a special session to talk about the changes he wants to see in the proposal. His idea of health care for the neediest:
The special session has just begun and we need to make sure our message is heard. You all have done a fantastic job in getting to the Governor with our message of providing affordable care to all Californians. We hit the ground with cell phones to give everyone an opportunity to call the Governor's office. Folks up and down the state made calls in September to the Governor's regional offices, driving his staff crazy! We learned that the leader of a state where a multitude of languages are spoken does not have the capacity to speak to much of California (we found one Spanish speaking staff member in San Diego along with an intern who spoke some Japanese). The fight is not over. We're taking a sip of water and waiting for the bell signaling the next round. We'll keep you posted.
Health of the Nation
The federal program to insure kids' health has gone from puffing its chest in the House to turning tail in the Senate. After the houses came out with stark differences for funding SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program), there was talk about hashing out the differences in conference committee. Advocates, bearing flowers and candy knocked on the door of several representatives to find out who the mystery conference members would be. But, after several weeks (with wilted flowers and hardened candy) members declared there would be no conference committee, and that the compromise would be decided in the Senate (the tail turning Senate). However, it mattered little as to what plan was coming out of either house, as President Bush has promised a veto if the program is increased by more than $5 billion over 5 years (forget that we're paying that much weekly for Iraq). So, what we have is a poor compromise for children's health care:
There is talk about extending the current program for 18 months until the differences can be ironed out with more time. Congress has until September 30th, when the program expires, to decide that. Stay tuned.
Standing Together in 2008
A recent poll states that the majority of Americans feel that our country is on the wrong track. But what can we do to change that?
The Campaign for Community Values is a values-based, multi-year campaign to get America back on track. Launched by the Center for Community Change and hundreds of grassroots groups, it aims to build power at the ballot box and start a new national conversation about the country we want to become, and build a politics that connects everyone to win real victories on critical issues facing low-income people.
How will this happen?
We'll be contacting you about ways to become part of this national conversation on the values that drive our work and to build a new campaign from the ground up. Here's a taste of what's to come:
December 1st - The Heartland Presidential Forum in Iowa
Leaders from thousands of low-income communities will challenge presidential candidates to confront the "on your own" mentality of today and stand up for the values of interdependence, community and the common good - Community Values. The people most affected by social and economic injustice will ask the questions on issues such as health care, living wages, clean elections, fair housing, immigration reform, farming and the environment. California will be sending a delegation to this historic event.
California Partnership will be releasing its new and improved voter tool kit to help communities educate and mobilize voters in 2008. Watch for it in early 2008.
Our work with Mobilize the Immigrant Vote is preparing immigrant communities to mobilize voters in 2008. CAP is particularly targeting communities in San Diego, San Bernardino and the Central Valley. Contact Alicia Lepe at [email protected] to find out more.
California Counts in 2008!
2008 is just months away and California Partnership is gearing up to make our issues heard in the presidential campaign debates. Sometimes we hear that California isn't really that important as part of the national election scene, but here are a few points to think about:
(Thanks to Javier Gonzalez from SOL for helping us think through these ideas!)
Member Profile: Fresno Center for New Americans
Member Profile: Fresno Center for New Americans Fresno Center for New Americans' (FCNA) mission is to assist refugees that have become new Americans to be come self-sufficient, self-fulfilled, and productive members of the community, while fostering cultural preservation and promoting cross-cultural understanding. Established in 1991 as a non-profit organization in the Central Valley, FCNA provides integral services that equip new Americans with skills and tools to become contributing members of the community. FCNA engages in issues that include health, education, employment services, safety, research, advocacy, and civic participation.
Their core values and beliefs are to respect human dignity by promoting equality and diversity in all cultures. They take pride in being a resource center for new Americans that are in search of "the American Dream."
Join and Support the Partnership
Support the California Partnership and Build Power for Low-Income Californians!
Be part of a growing movement! We're sure you understand the importance of all of us sharing the ownership of the California Partnership and being invested in its growing strength. Three years ago we had less than sixty members, just two chapters, and a non-representative coordinating committee. We now have over 120 member organizations, five chapters, and an elected and accountable coordinating committee. The move to implement dues is part of the effort to create an infrastructure that will continue to strengthen our network and our work.
The minimum dues structure is:
We of course encourage you to donate more if you are able! We are keeping the dues low because of our commitment to include all organizations, and especially small, grassroots organizations, to participate. Community-based organizations who agree with our mission are eligible for membership.
We think you'll agree that the resources and growing community we offer as a member of the California Partnership are worth the very minimal dues, including:
Thank you and we look forward to working with you.
I'm Joining the California Partnership
I agree with the California Partnership's mission and would like to join:
In addition to dues and I/we are including an additional donation of: $_________.
Please make check payable to California Partnership, write in the memo area of your check that it is for "dues," and mail to:
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