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Jan 13 2017 | 

Author: Daniela | 

Governor Jerry Brown released a conservative 2017-18 Budget Proposal last week, one that sadly includes no new investments for Health & Human Services and even recants previous gains. Director of Government Affairs Andrew Cheyne was in Sacramento to hear the Governor's announcement along with other members of the Californians for SSI coalition to advocate for Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payment, CalFood, and the drought food assistance program.

Governor Brown was, as he has been at all previous budget announcements, cautious about California's economy. He referenced the incoming Trump administration as a reason to be even more prudent about investments in state programs than he has been in the past. He also referenced his recently departed corgi, Sutter, in his proposal.

The proposed budget includes $2.9 billion General Fund for the Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payment program today, which represents a 2% increase ($55.2 million) over the revised 16‑17 Budget. This is a disappointment to CAFB because it doesn’t raise the state’s contribution to SSI/SSP to the level it was at before the Great Recession. 

“While most of the state is benefitting from economic prosperity, a million Californians are being left behind,” says Andrew. “Governor Brown says he wants to create a rainy day fund, well for seniors and those living with disabilities, it is already pouring.”

Andrew's sentiment was echoed by members of CAFB.

California has the highest poverty rate in the nation (20.3) and state budget cuts have forced further hardship on the 1.3 million who rely on Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payment for basic needs like food, shelter, and medication. The state-funded SSP portion of grants to individuals have been cut from $233 a month to the federal minimum of $156 a month, and for couples from $568 to $396 since 2009. Cost of living adjustments to SSI/SSP were repealed in 2009 and only a single restoration was enacted in the state’s 2016-17 budget. 

State lawmakers have made some improvements for low income people like raising the minimum wage and improving CalWORKs, but because SSI/SSP recipients increasingly rely on expensive public safety, medical and nursing home services the changes aren’t keeping up with California’s high cost of living. California is also the only state where SSI/SSP recipients cannot receive food stamps. Women, mainly Asian, Black, and Latina, make up a disproportionate number of the people reliant on a secure safety net.

Californians for SSI advocates spoke to the press at the capitol about the danger poverty poses those dependent on SSI/SSP.

Click here to view the Fox40 interview.

Click here to listen to the interview on KPFA.

The budget didn't include new funding for CalFood (SEFAP). Established in 2011, the CalFood Program is currently funded at $2M for 2016-17. CalFood strengthens our emergency food network by enabling California food banks to purchase California grown foods. This is vital support as our food banks experience high demand, complicated by the state’s severe drought emergency, and the uneven, low-wage economic recovery.

Also, there was no new Drought Food Assistance Program funding in the budget and an announcement that there won't be in the future. As the effects of the drought continue to affect Californians, it is heartening to think that current funding will have to suffice for the remainder of the 2017 calendar year. 

We encourage our members to meet with your elected officials and help make CalFood a priority in every caucus within the Legislature. Here is a handout with more information.

 

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