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Community Advocates React to Governor Brown’s Revised 2016-17 Budget with No New Cuts and No Significant Investments

A Press Release was issued by Health Access California, on May 16, 2016 regarding Governor Brown’s Revised 2016-17 Budget. Resources for Independent Living strongly supports this statement.

Community Advocates React to Governor Brown’s Revised 2016-17 Budget with No New Cuts and No Significant Investments

LOS ANGELES, CA – Members of the Health and Human Services Network of California and the California Partnership responded to the Governor’s Budget May Revision by saying “It’s Time” to invest in the vital services across California and in Los Angeles. During the last few years, progress has been made to ensure the Californians are no longer living in poverty, but it’s not enough. The coalition of community organizations recognize the steps that Governor Brown and the legislature have taken to address funding inequities, such as: the Health4All Kids program, the small increases to the SSI cost of living adjustment, the passage of the minimum wage bill, the 1.4% increase to the CalWORKS grants, and the support for the “No Place Like Home” proposal to tackle the homelessness crisis in the state. But millions of California children and families still live in poverty and lack access to critical services.

On the safety net: “Governor Brown’s May Revise budget announcement shows a good start in rebuilding our safety net. California Partnership is glad to hear that California is taking the lead on raising the minimum wage. We would like California’s state budget revenue surplus to go into Health and Human Services program investments for the 9 million Californians living in poverty versus going into the rainy day fund and state’s reserve fund. Also, instead of $250 million going into more jail construction, we would like the state to properly fund SSI/SSP, invest in Health4All, restore the 10% cut on Medi-Cal doctor reimbursements and restore the cuts made in child care,” said Maribel Nunez, California Partnership’s Director. In addition, “9to5 is dismayed by the state’s continued lack of fiscal responsibility to hungry children,” said Cathy Deppe, 9to5 National Board Member and LA Chapter member. ” It’s unacceptable and unconscionable that children born into CalWORKS families are denied assistance because of the Maximum Family Grant rule. While enormous budget surpluses have been redirected to savings year after year, poor families go hungry.  It is high time to repeal this rule and feed hungry families.” “It’s time to rebuild a strong safety net and it’s time to repeal the MGF!”

On SSI: “There are approximately 1 million elderly and disabled residents in California living in abject poverty. Our state’s most vulnerable residents are struggling to stay in their homes, buy food, and survive because funding for the state’s supplement to the federal Supplemental Security Income program was cut in 2009 to make up for a budget shortfall during the recession. We need to restore those cuts today in order to bring elderly Californians and people with disabilities up to the federal poverty line,” said Cynde Soto, representing Californians Actively Living Independent and Free (CALIF). “It’s time to invest in our elderly and disabled Californians!”

On affordable housing: “We urge the legislature to move forward with Assemblymembers Thurmond and Chiu’s proposal to allocate $1.3 billion in surplus funding for a variety of housing programs. The need for housing assistance has never been greater and few expenditures boost economic growth as effectively as affordable housing investment,” said Alex Visotzky, Neighborhood Housing Services of LA County. “It’s time to invest in affordable housing!”

On health care: “We should build on the commitment to care for all California children made in last year’s budget and we will continue to push this year for all Californians to have access to coverage, regardless of immigration status. Immigrants are a vital part of our community and economy and should be fully included in our health system,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California. “It’s also the budget does not remove the estate recovery provision that discourages patients from signing up for Medi-Cal coverage. It’s time to ensure Health4All and build a state that has a strong health care system on which we all rely.”

On the corrections budget: “This May Revision, like numerous budgets during the Brown administration, shovels billions of dollars down the black hole of incarceration,” said Diana Zuñiga from Californians United for a Responsible Budget. “It shows that California is being set up for a grim future that is prioritizing the policing and imprisonment of our people, while failing to support community needs and devastating communities of color. It’s time to invest in our communities, not in jails!”. A step in the right direction will be to fully fund Proposition 47 by adopting the Legislative Analyst Office framework. State savings will be redirected away from wasteful spending to comprehensive community prevention programs.

Frank Tamborello, from Hunger Action Los Angeles, provides a an excellent summary of what community advocates in Los Angeles are fighting for and what our communities need: “Hunger Action LA is pleased that Governor Brown has recognized the enormity of the issue of homelessness in California in the May budget revise. However, so much more needs to be done. We call on the Senate and Assembly to push hard in the final budget for the thousands of struggling, working families denied cash assistance for newborns under the CalWORKs Maximum Family Grant rule; for the small but very important budget item for nutrition incentive programs like Market Match, which can leverage millions in federal assistance and help small farmers all across the state suffering from the drought as well as thousands of low income people access a healthier diet; and for the 1.5 million seniors and people with disabilities in our state who suffer hunger, health problems, and financial hardship due to the unconscionably low State Supplemental Payment to SSI.”