Thursday, January 10, 2008

Governor Proposes Deep Reductions in State Programs

On Thursday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed his budget proposal for the 2008-09 fiscal year. Facing an estimated $14.5 billion dollar shortfall in revenues, the Governor asked nearly every department in the state government to reduce spending by 10%. For California’s immigrants, as well as many low-income residents who rely on the state’s various health and human services programs, the ten percent cut comes after years of reduced funding levels, rate freezes and suspended cost of living increases.

Many of the reductions contained in the Governor’s plan have been proposed in the past. The budget he released this week will serve as the starting point for negotiations with legislators who will, in the coming months, make their own proposals and hold public hearings on the state’s final budget plan.

The following is a summary of proposed cuts to some of the programs that directly serve immigrants. A more comprehensive analysis of the Governor’s budget proposal and its overall impact on immigrant communities will be available from CIPC in the coming days.

California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
CalWORKs is a vital program that provides cash assistance to some of our state’s neediest families. When families time out after 60 months on assistance, the State continues to provide a child only safety net benefit. Last year the governor proposed the following policy changes:
• Full family sanctions for the CalWORKs program
• Full family sanctions for child only cases who have used up their 60 month time clock
• A 60 month time limit on child only cases of ineligible parents (mostly immigrants)
These proposals were rejected by the Legislature. This budget re-introduces the same full family sanctions proposals. The full family sanction would be imposed gradually on families if the parents fail to respond to attempts to bring them into compliance with CalWORKs work requirements. In total, the proposed budget reduces CalWORKs by $389 million.

California Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
CFAP provides benefits to low-income non-citizens who have resided in the U.S. for less than five years. The program serves 23,400 people and 23 percent of the caseload is comprised of families.

The budget proposes to cut CFAP by 10 percent. Given that the program is solely state-funded, the budget proposal moves beyond an administrative reduction to an actual reduction in the assistance immigrants and families receive. The governor proposes to reduce the monthly benefit level from $91 to $82, effective June 1 of this year. Since the date of implementation is set a month prior to the start of the budget year, the program will be reduced by $200,000 General Fund dollars in the current 2007-08 fiscal year. In the coming 2008-09 budget year, the program will be reduced by $2.5 million General Fund dollars. This proposal cannot be enacted without regulatory or statutory change, which means that the Legislature must approve the reduction.

Food Stamps Program (FSP)
California operates the country’s largest nutrition program for low-income households. FSP issues electronic debit cards to low-income Californians which they can use to buy food.
The governor proposes to cut FSP by 4 percent. The administration estimates this will result in $14.4 million in savings to the State. Alongside a $20.5 million reduction passed on by the federal government, the program will experience a 10 percent reduction in sum.
The budget proposal does not reduce benefits to recipients; instead, the budget limits the reductions to administrative costs. The administration proposes extending the federal waiver to substitute face-to-face interviews with phone interviews. The administration also proposes increasing the wait time for applicant households eligible for Expedited Service from 3 to 7 days; however, this proposal must be enacted by the State Legislature. Overall, recipients will likely experience a decline in the quality of customer service and a delay in receiving assistance. Furthermore, since counties are being asked to perform the same duties with fewer resources, outreach and enrollment efforts will likely be negatively impacted.

Naturalization Services Program (NSP)
The Naturalization Services Program is a vital tool for encouraging our state’s foreign-born population to naturalize. NSP provides grants to 32 Community Based Organizations (CBOs) that provide naturalization services, including citizenship application assistance and citizenship testing and interview preparations, to 11,330 residents. When it was fully funded, NSP had a budget of $7 million annually. In recent years, the administration has maintained the program at $3 million per budget year. This has translated into long waiting lists at CBOs where immigrants seeking to naturalize are unable to receive the assistance they need, as the backlog of immigrants waiting for their citizenship continues to grow.

For the budget year, the governor proposes to reduce NSP by $300,000, bringing total NSP expenditures to a mere $2.7 million. This cut includes both a $15,000 reduction in administrative costs, as well as a $285,000 reduction in grants provided to CBOs. The administration expects the effect of this to translate a 1,130 people who will not receive naturalization services and will likely remain on the wait list and further lengthen the backlog.

The Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act
The State Legislature approved and enacted the Dymally-Alatorre Bilingual Services Act in 1973. It is widely seen as the benchmark for language access here in California and serves as a standard nationwide. Under the Act, all state and local agencies employ an appropriate number of bilingual employees to provide an equitable level of service to their clients with Limited English Proficiency as well as provide interpreters or written translations to assist clients in understanding English forms, notices and documents. The Bilingual Services Program conducts a biennial survey assessing the needs of various agencies and then provides technical assistance and training to state agencies providing guidance in how to stay in compliance with the Act.
The governor proposes to cut one analyst position and $80,000 from monies used to contact state agencies. In sum, this budget reduces expenditures in the Bilingual Services Program by $166,000. This will result in delays in conducting the biennial survey and reduce the program’s ability to provide guidance to agencies.

45 comments:

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fengfk2008 said...

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LED是未來主流的商品你知道嗎!
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健身會瘦才會美美的
你要找桃園搬家公司嘛
京觀廣告設計所設計出來的東西真的很棒!
台鐵火車時刻表
清境民宿很適合休閒去處
香舖買香製香的好所在
二手車其實性能還是不錯的
真煩

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thakerlaw1 said...

This is vitally interesting to watch from the east coast as california struggles under the weight of its financial troubles and how that relates to issues of immigration. Who knows what state will next find itself in such bad shape. Immigration lawyers in New York City are certainly keeping an eye on how programs and policy relating to immigration will be effected in California.

Matt said...

I think California is a perfect state, seen from a self-sufficient life and luxury, but behind it was a lot of problems in it, including this immigration. thanks for sharing.

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