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Monday, April 21, 2014
 
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Time to Implement the Farm Bill
03/11/2014
Notes on the Legislature

Today, the Senate and Assembly Human Services Committees will take up the issue of hunger and inc... Read More..


Assembly Budget Hears CalWORKs Items Today
02/26/2014
Notes on the Legislature

Today, the Assembly Budget Committee will hear items related to the California Work Opportunities... Read More..


Farm Bill Cutting Food Help To Be Signed Today
02/07/2014
Notes on the Legislature

The President is expected to sign the Farm Bill, House Resolution 2642, today at a ceremony in Lan... Read More..


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Article List
Legislature Guts The Safety Net
07/24/2009

18 Democrats Vote for the Cuts That Start July 2011.


The Assembly just passed AB 8 4X by a vote of 44-21 to concur in Senate amendments that make historic changes in the state's CalWORKs program. The bill was supported by 18 Democrats and 26 Republicans. 20 Democrats and 1 Republican (Tran) voted no. The bill now goes to the Governor where he is expected to sign the bill. The final roll call vote is attached.

The language for AB 8 4X has not been released and therefore it is impossible to say with complete accuracy how provisions will work. The only positive thing that can be said is that the CalWORKs provisions of AB 8 4X do not go into effect until July 2011. Thus no family is in immediate danger from the harsh sanctions and cuts in the bill.

But the damage done by AB 8 4X is extreme. The bill guts the safety net for the most vulnerable families by reducing children's grants for the first time in the history of the CalWORKs program. Grants will be reduced by 25% from a maximum of $566 a month for two children down to $420 a month if the parent can not comply with federal work requirements. These are parents who are either can not work legally or who have used up the 60 month time clock but are still so poor their children qualify for assistance. In reality, for most of these families they will see their grants reduced. Advocates implored Democratic legislators to not accept these cuts, particularly to immigrant families because politically it is nearly impossible to ever restore these benefits.

The bill increases sanction penalties up to 50% of the total grant if an adult is in sanction status for 9 consecutive months. On top of this counties will now be required to perform annual self-sufficiency reviews for the entire caseload, not just sanctioned families. Failure to attend the review will result in the entire family losing assistance. How these 2 provisions work together is unclear.

AB 8 4X reduces how long an adult can stay continually on aid from 60 months to 48 months, then the adult would have to be off aid for 12 months and then could return for 12 final months. This proposal will affect about 10 percent of the caseload who stay on aid as long as 48 months. But at month 49 if the children still need assistance they will get a Safety Net grant that it appears will be reduced by 25% if the parent is not working. Which simply begs the question, why cut the adult if we are going to try and force them to work anyway? This policy area seems fraught with unanticipated consequences.

This budget also does major harm to SSP and CalWORKs COLAs along with COLAs for almost every area of the state budget except K-12 education by repealing them and requiring any new COLAs be approved by a two-thirds vote. In essence the Democratic leadership has handed over new two-thirds vote power to the minority party and significantly weakened the Legislature by stripping it of leverage that came from being able to trade COLA suspensions off against bad proposals. This is a major gain for the Governor and the minority Republicans. 

The California Legislature has been steamrolled by Governor Schwarzenegger into sacrificing poor families with children for the sake of political expediency. Whether these cuts were agreed to so the state can repay Prop 98 next decade or were agreed to because the Democrats could not stand the Governor's heat doesn't matter. It is shameful, disgraceful and one of the lowest moments in the history of social welfare in California. It is deeply offensive to hear Democratic leadership claim to have "saved the safety net" or that they will undo this in the future. They will never have the votes to restore CalWORKs and they should stop trying to deceive the public about the harm they have done.

 


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Headquarters - 3701 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 208, Los Angeles, CA 90010

(213) 487-7211

© 2014 Western Center on Law & Poverty, Inc.  WCLP, WESTERN CENTER ON LAW & POVERTY, and WESTERN CENTER ON LAW & POVERTY & Design are registered trademarks owned by Western Center on Law & Poverty, Inc.  All rights reserved.  WCLP®

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