This week, California’s Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed eliminating cash assistance for the poorest families. The proposal to end the program, called CalWORKs, was a shock to legislators and just about everyone else.
If the proposal goes through, California would be the only state to reject Temporary Assistance to Needy Families block grants, a federal program. The program pays states as long as they put limitations on job requirements of recipients.
Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, said the draconian measure would result in “a lot of little kids begging on the streets.”
Even Maria is shocked!
Original DVD cover.
(NOTE: This post was edited to delete any traces of a story from the San Jose Mercury News. The reason can be found here.)
From the Los Angeles Times:
A broad array of Californians would be touched in fundamental ways by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest proposal to balance the state budget: senior citizens who attend day-care centers, voters seeking absentee ballots, children who ride the bus to school, parents seeking enforcement of custody orders.
These services could go by the wayside in a plan the governor unveiled Friday to slice $2.8 billion more from state spending. The announcement was the closing act of a two-week drama during which Schwarzenegger proposed dismantling many of government’s functions.
Schools would be hit by $680 million in new cuts to classrooms and by $315 million in cuts for transportation. The state’s social safety net would lose $1 billion more in funding for the poor, disabled and aged. Cities and counties would lose an additional $242 million in transportation funding.
“These are no longer cuts,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a nonprofit advocacy group. “These are amputations, and the question is, which limb are we cutting off today?”
Schwarzenegger would save $100 million by suspending laws requiring the state to pay for a variety of local government services, including offering absentee ballots before elections, resolving child custody problems, investigating deaths at mental hospitals, posting safety signs on beaches, collecting DNA samples from bodies, caring for abandoned pets and many more.
Local governments would have to pay for the services or stop providing them.
State workers, already under orders to take two unpaid days off each month, would also receive a 5% wage cut, saving the state an additional $470 million, as part of Schwarzenegger’s new plan.
Mirroring that proposal, the University of California, long besieged by controversy over its high executive salaries, announced 5% pay cuts for about 30 top administrators in the wake of the governor’s plans to slash higher education funding. Many of them earn more than $300,000 a year.
California Controller John Chiang urged the governor and legislative leaders in a letter Friday to come up with a plan to fix the budget by June 15. If they do not, he said, it will be difficult to arrange loans before the state runs short of cash two weeks later.
Underscoring his point, Fitch Ratings, a Wall Street agency that evaluates the state’s creditworthiness, changed its outlook on California’s debt Friday from stable to negative.
Administration officials said that for the most part, they did not have the luxury of considering the consequences — financial or human — of the plans they were making.
In an earlier proposal, they had suggested saving money by reducing fraud in the state’s adult day-care program, which provides services at centers across the state to help the frail and elderly continue living in their homes rather than more expensive nursing homes.
Under the new plan, cracking down on fraud would no longer be necessary, said Ana Matosantos, chief deputy budget director, “because now we’re looking at eliminating the program in its entirety.”
Also eliminated would be a $10.5-million caregiver program that helps the severely disabled, including people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and traumatic brain injuries.
The state would reduce payments to counties by $550 million for foster care, welfare and other services. It would cut $230 million by ending home care for all but the neediest, such as those who can’t breathe without machinery or move their limbs, officials said.
Schwarzenegger’s fellow Republicans were generally supportive of his plans.
“State government needs to tighten its belt,” said Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), “just like every hard-working family in California is doing right now.”