It has been over a decade since the Great Recession devastated our state’s economy, caused massive state budget shortfalls, and undercut the short- and long-term economic and social prospects for millions of Californians. As revenues fell, state policymakers balanced the budget, in part, by making drastic cuts to social safety net programs such as Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP), which helps to support more than 1 million seniors and people with disabilities with low incomes.
There is increasing recognition in California and nationally that the financial aid students receive to attend college should address the cost of attendance beyond tuition and fees, since living expenses – particularly housing expenses – often make up the largest share of students’ budgets. Consequently, recent financial aid reform efforts at the state and federal levels have focused on aligning the structure of financial aid with the total cost of attendance.
California allows parents less time receiving welfare-to-work cash support than 37 states and D.C. In most states, parents’ lifetime time limit is 60 months, the maximum allowed for federally-funded TANF support. But California restricts parents in CalWORKs, the state’s TANF program, to only 48 months – a full year less.
Housing costs vary substantially throughout California, with the highest costs in coastal urban areas and the lowest costs in inland rural areas. But incomes also vary regionally, and areas with relatively lower housing costs also tend to have lower typical incomes. The result is that housing affordability is clearly a problem throughout the state when housing costs are compared to incomes.
State policymakers have an opportunity to lead again by making the CalEITC inclusive of immigrant families who are not eligible to receive it today. This easy-to-print infographic shows what the tax credits can help pay for in a family budget and why including immigrant families is a critical next step for California.