The Legislature sent two bills to the Governor yesterday to draw on federal economic recovery funds to help California’s workers. As reported in our recent blog, one policy, Extended Benefits for the long-term unemployed, will bring up to $3 billion to California’s workers – money that will likely be spent immediately in local communities. The other, the Alternative Base Period (ABP), would allow an estimated 30,000 low-wage and seasonal workers to qualify for Unemployment Insurance (UI). However, instead of acting immediately, the Legislature delayed the deadline for implementation of the ABP until April 3, 2011, thus delaying receipt of UI benefits by Californians who lose their job through no fault of their own.
In addition, the long saga of the 2009-10 “budget trigger” came to a screeching halt today. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and Department of Finance (DOF) Director Mike Genest concluded that California will not receive sufficient federal funds by June 2010 to prevent, or “trigger off,” a $1.8 billion personal income tax increase and $948 million in cuts, mainly to health and human services programs and higher education. The DOF estimates that California can only count $8.166 billion in federal funds – mostly from the economic recovery bill signed into law last month – toward the $10 billion threshold, a finding the Treasurer did not dispute.
— Scott Graves and Vicky Lovell