Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What does the new California budget bill mean for low-income women?

By Shelley Hughes, Summer Fellow, Women's Initiative

The California budget is a source of ongoing debate, analysis and stress for legislators and Californians alike. Each year the government embarks on a lengthy and complicated journey to develop an annual budget that must get passed by the Super Majority before it is sent to the Governor for final signature.  

Last month, Jerry Brown signed the 2012-2013 California state budget bill and outlined a plan to raise $8.5 billion in 2011 – 2013 by increasing personal income tax rates on very-high-income Californians for seven years and raising the state sales tax by one-quarter percent for four years.  The Women’s Foundation of California, who launched the “Stand With Women” campaign to challenge budget cuts that would negatively affect women in our state, recently outlined what the signed budget means for low-income women:

The good news:
-          Doesn’t cut Cal Grants for public university and college students.
-          Doesn’t restructure CalWORKs, the welfare-to-work program that serves 1.4 million poor Californians, 1 million of whom are children.
-          Doesn’t lower the market rate reimbursement for child care providers, which would have put many quality providers out of business and had a devastating effect on parents who rely upon them.
-          Doesn’t move child care under the Department of Social Services. Child care remains the responsibility of the Department of Education, as it should considering that child care needs to support children’s educational development.

Of concern:
-          There are now 26,000 fewer child care slots for needy children, leaving parents with fewer child care options while they’re at work or attending school.
-          Time on CalWORKs has been reduced from four years to two. In a difficult economy, two years is rarely enough time for families to establish economic security.

Although the budget is signed, voters must pass the Governor’s ballot measure in November in order for the bill to take effect. If voters reject the measure on Nov 6, the budget agreement would trigger $6 billion in spending cuts that would come into effect January 1, 2013 and primarily affect public school, colleges and universities.

The complete budget summary can be accessed here:

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