On Tuesday, Governor Newsom released his state proposal for the 2023-24 budget. We are deeply grateful to the Governor for protecting many critical anti-hunger and anti-poverty investments despite the estimated $22.5B state budget deficit.
Given the challenging economic times, it is more important than ever to ensure that low-income Californians are centered in the state budget so that we can continue to build on the tremendous investments that have prevented a full-scale hunger crisis through the depths of the pandemic. Unfortunately, the most recent data shows that one in five Californians is experiencing hunger, with a disproportionate impact experienced in Black and Latinx communities. We thank Governor Newsom for recognizing this reality throughout his Administration.
In February, CalFresh recipients – more than 5 million Californians – will receive their last Emergency Allotment, which has provided a critical boost to their benefits throughout the COVID-19 crisis. In total, this will be an overwhelming $500 million cut to food assistance statewide – per month. Many households, including older adults, will face the unbelievable cliff from $281 a month to just $23. This sunsetting of Emergency Allotments will cause a dramatic and unprecedented benefits cliff, resulting in hunger and hardship across our entire state if we do not act now to prevent this harm. This is only compounded by the skyrocketing cost of food.
As we look to budget negotiations in the weeks and months ahead, we call on Governor Newsom and the Legislature to act boldly and commit to investing in our state’s network of food banks, emergency food providers, and safety net programs as we work together to mitigate hunger.
We are grateful to Governor Newsom for protecting investments in many important anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs:
- CalFood: $52M, on top of the already existing annual baseline of $8M, totaling $60M in the 2023-24 budget. CalFood is a proven and effective anti-hunger program, enabling food banks to purchase California-produced foods to meet their communities’ diverse food needs, a win-win to fight hunger and support our critical food economy.
- Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Security Enhancements: $76.5M to protect clients and prevent theft of EBT benefits, by implementing enhanced security features to safeguard CalWORKs and CalFresh clients’ benefits from theft. The budget includes $50M in 2023-24, $23M in 2024-25, and $3.5M in 2025 to help increase EBT card security to prevent skimming.
- Universal School Meals: $1.3B for all students, regardless of income, to access two free school meals per day – up to 12 million meals per day statewide.
- CACFP (Child and Adult Care Food Program): $1.5M for an increased cost-of-living adjustment of 8.13%.
- SSI/SSP (Supplemental Security Income): $146M in 2023-24 and $292 million ongoing for an additional SSP increase of approximately 8.6%, effective January 1, 2024. This follows from a 10.3% SSP increase that took effect with SSI/SSP payments this month, January 2023, and an earlier SSP increase that took effect in January 2022. While this restores SSP cuts on an absolute dollar amount, it does not return grants to where they would be before the Great Recession cuts on an inflation-adjusted basis. We echo Californians for SSI’s call for grants to be based on the Elder Economic Index.
- CFAP (California Food Assistance Program): We are disappointed that Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2023-24 state budget plan delays the implementation date for the historic expansion of CFAP for all Californians ages 55 and older regardless of immigration status until January 1, 2027, and that it does not include expansion to all ages.
- CalWORKs： $7.4 billion for CalWORKs, including a 2.9% increase to CalWORKs maximum aid payment levels.
- Medi-Cal: $844.5M in 2023-24 ($2.1B in 2024-25, and $2.5B annually thereafter) to maintain the state’s historic investment in expanding full-scope Medi-Cal coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status.
CAFB will continue to advocate for the critically needed $180M in climate and capacity infrastructure funding for food banks, permanent authorization of the State Disaster Food Assistance Program, and $60M in one-time funding to sustain and expand the distribution of diapers and menstrual products, among many other anti-poverty priorities.
Our full public policy agenda can be found here, and we look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to secure these in the final 2023-24 budget act.
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