Statement by Peter Manzo, President & CEO of United Ways of California Regarding Governor Newsom's January 2022 Budget Proposal
Governor Newsom’s Proposed January 2022 Budget Invests in Immediate COVID-19 Response and Robust Long-term Economic Recovery; United Ways of California Urges Focus on Tax Credit Equity and 2-1-1 System Services
United Ways of California applauds the Governor’s proposed substantial investments in public health, homelessness services, and youth-focused tax credits. With a $31 billion surplus, there are opportunities to make additional investments in equitable access to earned income tax credits and the 2-1-1 system as a critical statewide health and human services resource.
(Los Angeles, CA) — Statement from Peter Manzo, President and CEO of the United Ways of California, (UWCA) regarding Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2022-2023 state budget:
It is encouraging to see so many of our shared values and priorities addressed in the Governor’s January Budget Proposal. With California’s current revenue surplus exceeding $31 billion, and a total state budget of $286.4 billion, we look forward to advocating for a balanced, equitable budget alongside fellow community-based organizations and our elected officials.
We are very supportive of the Governor’s prioritization of $2.7 billion for vaccine distribution and COVID-19 testing, as well as funding for medical surge staffing at hospitals and local public health jurisdictions. Addressing our public health crisis and the economic fallout that has been ravaging our state for two years is of critical importance. In that context, we are also especially pleased to see a concrete plan to implement “Health4All,” a first-in-the-nation investment to make sure all immigrant residents are eligible for Medi-Cal by expanding coverage to the last segment of ineligible undocumented residents, 26 to 49-year-olds. The United Way network in California has been a strong proponent of equitable access to health care for over a decade and we are thrilled to see this community-based advocacy effort result be realized.
Last year, UWCA sponsored SB 691, authored by Senator Rubio, to remove the earnings requirement for receiving the Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC), to mirror the federal Child Tax Credit. We are excited to see the Governor’s proposal reflect UWCA’s priority to expand the YCTC eligibility to include those with zero dollars in earned income and additionally adjust with inflation. In California, the YCTC helps reduce poverty among more than eight in 10 families of color eligible to benefit from the YCTC. We are additionally pleased to see the Governor’s proposal for a new $1,000 tax credit for those who have been in the foster care system who qualify for the California Earned Income Tax Credit.
The Governor’s proposed budget makes a substantial investment in educational equity through the proposed expansion to make transitional kindergarten universal, and a proposed 15% increase to the Local Control Funding Formula Concentration Grant, providing over $1 billion in additional funding for our state’s neediest students. Coupled with last year’s $3 billion investment in Community Schools - which targets communities with high levels of poverty - California has an enormous opportunity to help bridge the educational inequities facing our students but only if we get it right with community members and kids at the forefront of the process. We look forward to working with this administration and the legislature to ensure that the implementation of these programs is as equitable and as successful as possible.
While we are appreciative to see continued investments aimed at curbing educational inequities in the K-12 education space, this proposed budget does not go far enough for our youngest learners, their families, and child care providers. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, our child care system was is in desperate need of increased dedicated state funding. Our Real Cost Measure data shows that families with children are more likely to live in poverty, and in particular, over half of families with young children under 6 struggle to afford a decent standard of living. In many cases, child care can cost as much as housing, if not more. Historically, California has relied on one-time investments to help keep its child care system afloat. Over the years this created the tremendous instability and uncertainty that our child care providers and families face today. If California ever hopes to truly stabilize its child care system, it will have to make significant, ongoing state investments that truly recognize child care as essential infrastructure, both to support employment as well as child development.
Additionally, we applaud Governor Newsom proposed steps to address the climate crisis and invest in drought preparedness, wildfire suppression, and community response to the long-term impacts of climate disasters. As communities contend with disasters such as COVID-19, wildfires, earthquakes, and climate change, we urge the Legislature and Governor to invest in the 2-1-1 system as a statewide resource for all California residents who need access to health and human service information and resources, as well as critical infrastructure support during disasters. COVID-19 and recent wildfires have shown just how vital the 2-1-1 system is to link Californians in every county to assistance for housing, rent relief, food, COVID-19 testing sites, vaccine information and scheduling, among many other resources.
We applaud the Administration for continued investment in affordable housing and meeting the needs of our unhoused community members, with a focus on behavioral health as a cornerstone to successful interventions to end the homelessness cycle and keep families safely housed. The proposed $2 billion over the next two years to expand access to housing for vulnerable populations with complex behavioral health conditions and people living in encampments is much needed. United Ways across the state know well the challenges that we collectively face to ensure families experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming unhoused are supported and cared for as we assist with local coordination on housing vouchers, rental assistance, and street and shelter-based care and service navigation. We are committed to making a dramatic shift in our state’s housing crisis and meeting Californians where they are at by building affordable housing and connecting services to those who need it most.