Governor's Budget Proposal is a Good Start, But Doesn't Do Enough to Help Low-Income Families
January 9, 2014
Los Angeles, CA — California’s finances are more solid than they have been for several years, thanks in no small part to Governor Brown’s leadership. While the Governor’s proposed budget increases investment in K-12 education, similar investments in health programs and initiatives that help families achieve financial self-sufficiency are needed to strengthen opportunities for low-income families, which are essential to California’s overall competitiveness and well being. California’s United Ways work throughout the state to improve health, education, and financial stability in our communities, and we know that success in any one of these areas is affected by progress in the others. United Ways of California (UWCA) urges the Governor and legislature to work together through the budget process to restore health and human services programs that are crucial to achieve these results.
UWCA applauds the Governor for his continued commitment to our schools evidenced by his proposal to provide $10 billion in 2014, including $4.5 billion toward the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), enough to eliminate more than 28 percent of the remaining funding gap. We support the Governor’s legislative proposal to create a continuous appropriation for LCFF, ensuring that the formula continues to be implemented on schedule in future years. UWCA also deeply appreciates his proposed investment in the state’s higher education system to maintain the quality and affordability of one of California’s greatest strengths.
The Governor and legislature should be praised for the work they have done to implement the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and ensure that our state’s Medi-Cal expansion serves all eligible Californians well. However, the Governor’s budget proposal misses an opportunity to ensure that all of the newly enrolled and existing Medi-Cal beneficiaries have meaningful access to care and instead maintains the deep cuts to the Medi-Cal reimbursement rates made during the recession. The Governor proposes forgiving some of the retroactive cuts to Medi-Cal payments to providers, but he leaves in place an ongoing 10 percent reduction, which will continue to undermine access to care for California’s children and families.
The Governor’s proposal to include $17.5 for outreach to educate parents of Medi-Cal children on the importance of pediatric dental and vision benefits is a welcome acknowledgement that gaps exist in the delivery and utilization of these services. But, with no indication of how the funds will be allocated, this outreach may only compound the existing access problems. Even after full implementation of the ACA, some Californians will remain uninsured, and under the Governor’s plan, the responsibility for caring for these individuals will fall to the counties. The state should assume a leadership role to create a more equitable and consistent statewide strategy for how this can best be done rather than leaving it to the individual counties.
UWCA is optimistic about the Governor’s proposed Parent and Child Engagement Demonstration Pilot for the CalWORKs program and hope that it yields comprehensive solutions that will serve all of our states most vulnerable families. This budget acknowledges the 5% increase to the maximum aid amounts that was passed in the 2013 budget, but this current budget proposal does nothing to further reduce the impact that the severe tightening of cash aid during the recession had on families, many of whom are still struggling to regain financial stability.
United Ways of California is committed to working with the Governor and Legislature to pass a final budget that protects our children, their families and our future.
United Ways of California improves health, education and financial stability results for low-income California families by coordinating the statewide advocacy and community impact work of 34 California United Ways.
Peter Manzo, President & CEO
Judy Darnell, Director of Public Policy