Governor Acts on Key Bills

Governor Brown completed action this weekend on the roughly 600 bills that the Legislature sent him before adjourning last month. The Governor signed a significant budget-related bill, SB 202 (Hancock), which moves a state spending cap measure from the June 2012 primary election ballot to the November 2014 general election ballot. The spending cap measure – ACA 4 – was placed on the ballot as part of the October 2010 budget agreement. SB 202 also requires future initiatives and referenda to be placed on November general election ballots.

The Governor also signed AB 6 (Fuentes), which eliminates the fingerprinting requirement for CalFresh – formerly food stamp – applicants, although not for CalWORKs welfare-to-work applicants. AB 6 also cuts red tape by shifting from a quarterly to a six-month reporting system for CalFresh and CalWORKs recipients. These changes, which the CBP recommended back in 2009, are expected to increase program efficiencies and boost the CalFresh participation rate, which ranks near the bottom among the 50 states’ food assistance programs. Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed AB 1182 (Hernández), which would have further simplified CalWORKs by eliminating California’s restrictive “vehicle asset test.” Families who apply for CalWORKs generally cannot have a car worth more than $4,650, a limit that has not been adjusted since the mid-1990s. California has one of the strictest limits in the nation despite the fact that Californians rely heavily on their cars to get to work, and in today’s market a car worth less than $4,650 is not likely to be very reliable, to say the least. Let’s hope the Legislature gives the Governor an opportunity to reconsider his veto next year.

—Scott Graves