Helping Californians Climb Out of Poverty:
Next Steps for the 2015 -2016 California Budget
California Partnership is a statewide coalition of community-based groups, organizing and advocating for the policies and programs that work to reduce and end poverty. Our mission is to organize to build power and leadership among low-income communities by strengthening our voice and collective power to advocate for the policies that affect our lives the most.
In the past few years California has made an amazing turn around. Deficits are thing of the past, debts are being paid down, employment is increasing and health care has been extended to millions. As we enter into the 2015 legislative session we are urging the Governor and the Legislature to expand the recovery to even more segments of California.
Now is the time to make key investments in California to further lift the economy and reduce the state’s high poverty rate. We support expanding opportunities that help grow the recovery and build on the progress we have already made.
Priorities for an Equitable California Budget
- Health for All – Pass SB 4 (Lara) so that every Californian, regardless of documentation, can access affordable health coverage.
- End the Maximum Family Grant rule – Pass SB 23 (Mitchell) to ensure that every child born into a family who already receives CalWORKs is given the support they need to thrive.
- Lift SSI/SSP recipients out of poverty – Ensure that all blind, aged or disabled Californians have enough income for housing, food and health care so they can live in dignity.
- Child care – Expand access and eligibility requirements to child care subsidies so every California parent can pursue work and educational opportunities that will lead them to economic security and lead their children to success in school and life.
- An honorable minimum wage – Pass SB 3 (Leno) so every California worker earns a living that lifts them out of poverty.
Three Key Paths to Reduce Poverty in California
Reduce Deep Poverty for Families with Children
A growing body of research demonstrates that the early onset of poverty in children’s lives leads to a host of long-term negative consequences. The state should:
- Increase CalWORKs grants and expand incentives to work to raise income levels of poor families, so that no family receiving CalWORKs is living in “deep poverty,” or below 50% of the Federal Poverty Line.
- Eliminate policies that reduce grant amounts for CalWORKs families – maximum family grants, sanctions, time limits, and fleeing felon bar policies all reduce family income even though the family is in deep poverty.
- Explore work and training options for single head-of-households individuals that will lead to lasting economic independence, not temporary low-wage employment.
Eliminate Laws, Policies, and Practices that Create Poverty
Many Californians are trapped in poverty because of punitive laws, policies, and practices that either cause folks to become poor or keep families poor. The state should:
- Reduce recidivism and address the revolving prison door due to lack of social safety net support, especially the unavailability of transitional and permanent housing.
- Ensure that homeless Californians have a “Right to Rest” without fear of harassment, citation, or arrest. Attempts to criminalize rest – sitting, lying down, sleeping – are wasteful and actually make it more difficult for homeless people to exit the streets.
- Reinstate drivers licenses once individuals begin repaying civil fines to help individuals stay employed, complete their restitution and prevent a ruinous cycle of debt.
Expand and Create Key Public Support Programs
To help Californians as they work to escape poverty and to prevent families from falling back into poverty, the state should expand key support programs that address the most pressing family needs. The state should:
- Restore the over 100,000 childcare slots eliminated in recent budget years, open slots for the over 200,000 families on the childcare waiting list, update and expand income and eligibility requirements, and increase childcare provider rates.
- Restore the 10% cut in reimbursement rates to Medi-Cal providers so all Medi-Cal recipients have equitable access to health care.
- Pass a permanent source of revenue to build and rehabilitate affordable housing for families at lower income levels.
- Increase SSP grants so that no seniors, blind people or people living with disabilities live below the Supplemental Poverty Measure, and reinstate the Cost of Living Adjustment to keep them permanently out of poverty.
- Expand the reach of the federal EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) by using state funding to assist young workers and families with more than two children.
- Create an honorable minimum wage that reflects the high cost of living throughout our state.
- Restore hours and services to In-Home Support Services, and provide paid sick leave for all California workers.
- Invest in integration and naturalization programs for immigrant communities.
- Improve the arduous CalFresh application process for hungry families who have immediate needs for food.