Today, Governor Schwarzenegger held a press conference to outline his proposed changes to the CalWORKs Program, including imposing stricter penalties for recipients who do not, or cannot, meet CalWORKs work participation requirements. He also seeks to reduce lifetime limits on CalWORKs assistance for those not meeting federal work requirements.
The CBP will be taking a closer look at these proposals; stay tuned. But there are some important points CBP staff want to add to this conversation right now:
- The labor market is tough. The state’s unemployment rate reached a record high of 11.5 percent in May, and individuals with limited education, that is, the very people who may rely on CalWORKs for economic security, face an even higher unemployment rate. Just because the Schwarzenegger Administration wants CalWORKs recipients to be employed doesn’t mean there are jobs available.
- Recognizing the importance of a strong safety net and the need to infuse local economies with additional funds during the recession, the federal government is offering to pay 80 percent of the cost of increased CalWORKs caseloads through the federal economic recovery bill.
- Contrary to the Governor’s claims, CalWORKs caseloads aren’t “increasing every year.” The number of families receiving CalWORKs dropped by more than 400,000 between March 1995 and March 2009. Yes, the CalWORKs caseload has gone up since July of 2007 – not surprising, given the economic downturn – but the overall trend in California slopes downward.
— Vicky Lovell