Today California passed the 2017-2018 budget. The budget makes a few positive changes in the Health and Human Services sector, but still lacks definitive commitment to funding and investments in CA’s poor and marginalized communities. The $125 billion budget expands the Earned Income Tax Credit, provides a cash injection for the working poor. Adults with three children are eligible if they earn less than $14,161 a year. The deal will lift the threshold to about $22,000 and allow people to qualify even if their income is from self-employment, such as driving for ride-sharing companies.
Doctors and dentists will get a raise through an agreement between Brown and lawmakers on spending $1.2 billion in revenue from a tobacco tax. About half the money will go to health care providers, including $465 million for doctors and dentists who treat low-income patients on the state's Medi-Cal health insurance program for the needy and $50 million for family planning providers including Planned Parenthood. The budget does include $43 million for the Housing and Disability Advocacy Program (HDAP). The governor had proposed to eliminate the funding but the budget includes the funding.
A significant change made from earlier this year is funding streams for the In Home Supportive Services program. Rather than shifting the full $592.2 million dollar shared cost over to counties, the state will support counties with the cost over the next few years. For the 2017-2018 budget cycle, $400 million dollars from the General Funds will be used to support IHSS costs, while counties will be responsible for providing $141 million dollars. Counties’ financial obligation to the IHSS program will continue to increase over time, providing them with some time to adjust to the financial responsibility.
One victory celebrated by healthcare and immigrant rights groups is the end to the Newly Qualified Immigrant Wrap program for eligible legal permanent residents. This will allow for the individuals to continue receiving their care through full-scope Medi-cal benefits and prevent possible coverage loss and uncertainties through the shift to Covered CA. The budget also would restore full dental and eyeglass benefits which were cut from Medi-Cal during the Great Recession. Under the deal struck between Brown and Democrats, $465 million of the new revenue would go toward boosting payments for doctors and dentists who see patients on Medi-Cal. Unfortunately the plan did not include Medi-Cal access to young adults up to age 26 who are undocumented, despite passing both houses.
With SB 562 California can lead in constructing an alternative health care infrastructures for the state. California has the opportunity to spend less on our healthcare and receive better health outcomes just like the rest of the world does with single payer systems. We need a system that provides quality health coverage to every single Californian, regardless of where they were born or what language they speak.
While several social safety net programs have either taken a cut or remained stagnant in funding, the Corrections’ Budget only seems to get bigger. The state corrections budget is more than $11 billion, California will soon have the dubious distinction of spending more than $75,000 per inmate. That’s up from the $71,000 per inmate California spends now and roughly $26,000 more than the state spent per inmate in 2010-11, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. "It's disappointing that our Governor is not prioritizing the needs of all Californians.” -Neel Sannappa, The Young Progressives
Despite sweeping criminal justice reforms reducing the prison population by more than 30,000 prisoners since 2011, the California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has seen its budget continue to increase. California needs to invest in communities and stop the mass incarceration. “As President of LULAC of the Inland Empire I am extremely concerned over the Governor's Updated budget. I feel that the Governor is more concerned over Fast Trains, Prisons, and leaving a huge Surpluses for a Rainy Day than Human Welfare and Health Care. We are in a critical juncture in our State's history with Major cuts in funds for Health Insurance, Mental Health, Senior, and Low and Middle-Class programs. The Governor needs to rethink his priorities and put human beings first.” -George Aguilar, President of LULAC of the Inland Empire
In 2017‑18, total funding for CalWORKs from all funding sources will have decreased by more than $400 million relative to 2014‑15, largely due to declining caseloads. This program is already extremely underfunded and will only continue to keep poor and working class families in an abysmal cycle of poverty. “California needs do a better job of prioritizing Social and Economic Justice through expanded access to Health and Human Services. Our lawmakers must work toward finding budget solutions focused on giving the families who live in our most vulnerable communities, including farmworkers (who support our agriculture industry, which is such a vital part of our economy) a real chance at prosperity." - Michael Milan, Public Service Worker, Member of SEIU 721
The Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that total maximum monthly SSI/SSP grants will increase by $15.44. The state also deferred or eliminated various one-time spending commitments made in the 2016‑17 enacted budget. Including a proposal to eliminate $45 million in one-time funding in 2016‑17 to assist counties in establishing or expanding programs that help homeless individuals with disabilities apply for various assistance programs, including SSI/SSP. "It's disappointing and unethical. It undermines our credibility, as a state, to oppose proposed cuts to the social safety net by the Federal Government, while at the same time refusing to restore funding for the same programs at the State level." - Joseph Barry, DOGFITE (Disability Organizing Group For Initiating Total Equality) and CA4SSI
The federal budget release only proves that California must continue to fight for all marginalized communities and cut down on costs that do not prioritize the wellbeing of all Californians. We need a budget that ensures that everyone- from workers making the minimum wage to people who are unable to work and depend on SSI- never have to choose between food or paying rent. The state has the resources to start that plan today- right now- and begin to build back a state, an economy, and a community that we can all be proud of.
Mary Koharchick, Erick Lemus, Jared McCreary, Jeff Green, Karen Kandamby,
Maribel Nunez and Ipyani Lockert