Proposed Spending Reductions Target Health and Human Services Programs

As promised, we’re digging deeper into the Governor’s Proposed 2011-12 spending plan. As we noted last week, the proposed spending reductions would have a disproportionate impact on health and human services programs. In fact, over half (52.8 percent) the combined total of 2010-11 and 2011-12 spending reductions affect health and human services programs. In contrast, these programs accounted for 30.4 percent of budgeted 2010-11 General Fund spending.

CalWORKs, the state’s highly successful welfare-to-work program, would be cut by $1.5 billion, a reduction of more than a quarter. Proposed policy changes include an unprecedented 13 percent reduction in cash aid payments. In their analysis of the budget, the Legislative Analyst’s Office notes that, “the state has never reduced grants by more than 6 percent before” and that grants “would be the lowest level in decades relative to the FPL.” The Governor would also use $947 million of federal TANF funds to support the Cal Grants program, which provides student financial aid. These costs were previously paid out of the state’s General Fund. The proposed shift would leave families with fewer dollars to make ends meet and diminished access to job training and other services aimed at helping them move from welfare to work.

Last week, we lauded the Governor’s proposals for striking a balance between spending reductions and revenue increases. Unfortunately, the proposed spending cuts are far less balanced, leaving hundreds of thousands of Californians to face a precarious future in the still tumultuous waters of a struggling economy.

— Jean Ross