State Senator Curren D. Price (D-Los Angeles), Chairman of the California Legislative Black Caucus, issued the following statement today on Governor’s Brown proposed Budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
“Yesterday, Governor Brown released his proposed state budget for 2011-12 that cuts state spending by $12.5 billion, relies on new revenue that must be approved by voters, and transfers responsibility for certain programs and authority to local governments.
I recognize the unprecedented fiscal challenge facing California and the difficult choices we face in bringing the state budget into balance; however we must be careful not to balance the budget on the backs of our state’s most vulnerable citizens; children, the poor, disabled and elderly.
Exacerbated by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with unemployment in the double-digits and a substantial decline in tax revenues, we are witnessing the dismantling of our state’s safety net and the erosion of programs that impact our local municipalities, school districts, colleges and universities.
The Governor proposes significant cuts to higher education, which if enacted would undoubtedly limit access for students seeking entrance into our colleges and universities. For communities of color, this would be devastating and add further reduce college-going rates that are already at their lowest in years.
More specifically, the Governor proposed budget slashes funding for programs that provide healthcare and cash assistance for the poor:
- Eliminates more than half of state funding CalWORKS by cutting $1.5 billion in state and federal funding and reducing monthly grants by 13 percent reducing the number of CalWORKS families from a projected 580,000 to 458,000.
- Cuts the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program by $486 million by reducing the hours of services and eliminating some services, affecting more than 450,000 low-come and disabled Californians.
- Impacts the child care programs for low-income working families by eliminating child care assistance for 11 –and 12 year-olds, except those through served through the State Preschool Program.
- Reduces the maximum monthly SSI/SSP grant for individuals from $845 to $830, the minimum allowed by federal law.
- Reduces by 1.7 billion funding for the Medi-Cal program, capping benefits for prescription drugs at six per month and limiting doctor visits to 10 per year.
The Governor’s budget spares K-12 education from further cuts (California public schools have already experienced nearly $18 billion in spending reductions over the past three years), but California public schools continue to be ranked near the bottom when compared to other states in per-pupil funding. This means larger class sizes, more teacher layoffs, and the elimination of summer classes, music, art and other academic programs. We must continue to find creative ways to invest in our most precious resource, our children and their futures.
Over the next several weeks, I will work closely with my colleagues in the Senate to complete an exhaustive review of the governor’s proposals. It is my hope that we can achieve a balanced approach to solving our state current budget crisis; and in doing so addressing the needs of California families that are struggling to make ends meet in the face of job loss or reduced hours at work, and investing in our educational systems which were once the envy of the world and that remain an important stimulus for the state’s economy.
With every crisis comes opportunity. We now have an opportunity to remake local and state government in a way that brings government closer to home, while improving accountability, efficiency and public trust. However, we must also ensure that this opportunity does not result in further harm or erosion to our local economies and communities and that we take this opportunity to reevaluate our values and prioritize government services to reflect what is in our state’s best interest.
I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues to develop a budget that moves California forward, preserves education, protects the most vulnerable among us and puts the state on the road to economic recovery.
However, I want to emphasize that members of the California Legislative Black Caucus will be in the chambers of the Legislature fighting to preserve a quality of life for all of the people we serve.