California’s New Budget Falls Short

Last month, Gov. Brown signed the $156.4 billion 2014-15 state budget. Instead of reinvesting billions of dollars in new revenue from Prop 30 into communities that are still hurting from a decade of cuts, the California legislature took only small steps to address poverty and high unemployment, and accepted low levels of funding as the “new normal:”

  • The budget prioritizes $13 billion for savings and debt repayment instead of striking a balance to repair education, infrastructure and critical services deeply damaged by a decade of cuts.¹
  • Due to a 10% cut¹ enacted in September 2013 to Medi-Cal reimbursements, doctors and other health care providers will likely be discouraged from accepting Medi-Cal patients.
  • Despite growing public concern about California’s harsh sentencing laws and overcrowded prisons, the budget increased funding for prisons by $1.2 billion¹ , including $500 million² in new funds for County Jail expansion,.
  • The budget shifts $725 million¹ in funding for county clinics and hospitals to the state, leaving many local counties with limited resources to provide care to 3 million uninsured Californians.

The new budget does restore some funding for education, health care and the safety net made possible by Prop 30 passed by California’s rising new electorate in 2012. However, the increases are not enough to offset the decade of cuts and the increased cost of living in California.

  • Due to a federal mandate, home care workers will now receive overtime pay through a $300 million increase¹ in funding over the next two years for In Home Supportive Services, but services for the elderly and disabled have been so deeply cut that many of California’s most vulnerable have limited access to care. .
  • Over 11,000 low income 4-year olds will be able to attend pre-school part-time due to increased funding ($85 million)², but the budget does not restore the 100,000 childcare slots which have been slashed since 2007.¹
  • People on CalWORKs and CalFresh will see a 5% increase in their grant², and these programs will be eligible to those previously convicted of drug offenses in 2015. Despite this expansion, the cash grants fall below 50% of the poverty line, leaving recipients in deep poverty.¹
  • The UC and CSUs will see an increase in funding by $142.2 million each, and fees at California’s public universities will be frozen through 2016.² Yet even with this increase in funding, per student spending is still at the lowest levels in the last 30 years.

California Calls believes that there is a better path for California – target revenue to communities most in need, increase revenue to restore funding for critical services, and expand democracy in our state. California took a step forward towards this vision in 2012 by passing Prop 30. New and occasional voters came out to the polls in record numbers calling for an investment in our future. This new funding has stopped the trend of draconian budget cuts and is moving our state towards a “comeback.”

Prop 30 was just the first step. Bold and creative solutions are still needed to make California golden again. Join California Calls as we build towards the next step in restoring our state’s future.

 ¹California Budget Project, “2014-15 Budget Agreement Priorities Fiscal Austerity, Takes Only a Small Step Toward Reinvesting in Shared Prosperity” June 26, 2014
²2014-2015 California State Budget