Conference Committee’s Around the Corner – How Have Human Services and Child Care Fared Thus Far?

The Legislature’s budget committees tackled the Governor’s budget proposals over the last couple of weeks, setting the stage for the Budget Conference Committee to begin reconciling differences between the Assembly and Senate versions of the 2010-11 budget. Conference committee members and dates have yet to be announced – we will blog about it as soon as we hear. As always, the CBP will closely follow the Conference Committee process as well as negotiations with the Governor and analyze key decisions that emerge as policymakers attempt to close the $17.9 billion budget gap. For now, however, we wanted to briefly highlight how key human service and child care issues have fared in the budget process so far.

Both the Assembly and the Senate budget committees rejected the Governor’s proposals to:

  • Eliminate the CalWORKs Program as well as the Governor’s alternative proposals to reduce CalWORKs grants by 15.7 percent and end CalWORKs eligibility for recent legal immigrants.
  • Eliminate all state funding for child care for low-income working families.
  • Reduce state spending on In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) by $637.1 million in 2010-11 and by $750 million per year thereafter through unspecified cost-containment measures.
  • Reduce SSI/SSP grants for individuals to the minimum allowed by federal law.
  • Eliminate the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) and the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
  • Maintain the $80 million cut to Child Welfare Services that the Governor imposed in 2009-10 using his line-item veto authority. Instead, both committees restored the $80 million in 2010-11.
  • Continue using the Statewide Fingerprint Imaging System (SFIS) in the CalWORKs and Food Stamp programs. Instead, both committees voted to eliminate SFIS as well as the finger-imaging requirements for CalWORKs and food stamp participants.

In contrast, Assembly and Senate budget committee actions differed on the following key issues:

  • IHSS. Both committees expressed intent to reduce state costs for IHSS by as much as $150 million in 2010-11, although the savings targets differed. The Assembly proposed a new provider fee to achieve these savings.
  • Child care. The Assembly rejected the Governor’s proposed policy changes, including reducing the income eligibility limit for child care, reducing payments to child care providers, cutting funding for CalWORKs Stage 3 child care, and recovering “overpayments.” The Senate took different actions in order to send these issues to conference and voted to “consider changes to the family fee structure” for child care assistance.
  • After-school care. The Senate voted to place a measure on the ballot asking Californians to repeal Proposition 49 of 2002 – which requires the state to spend roughly $550 million per year on after-school care – and to allow school districts to use these funds for any educational purpose. The Assembly took no such action.

— Scott Graves

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