Policy Article for Discussion on Monday, Feb. 13:
“Jerry Brown: More Cuts to Welfare in Budget”
The state budget is created by Governor Brown, the Department of Finance, and the State Legislature. Their jurisdiction is in developing and finalizing the funding for state programs, such as CalWORKS and its comprising services. The budget proposal for CalWORKS targets those participating in “welfare-to-work” activities and receiving subsidized funds and services. Major points of the proposed budget involve reducing CalWORKS and subsidized child care expenditures by $1.4 billion. This would be accomplished by a restructuring of the CalWORKS program, which reduces cash grants for CalWORKS recipients and narrows the eligibility to receive subsidized child care and employment services. The reductions also come from a decreased maximum paid to child care providers and elimination of some services.
The proposal reflects the socio-cultural value and priority given welfare programs and the higher value attributed to other programs, such as education. The cuts to CalWORKS may also demonstrate the idea that people should provide for their own improvement, the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” sentiment. However, criticisms of these proposed cuts also reflect an expectation that government aid their citizens. Politically, attention is currently on balancing the budget; reducing the deficit is seen as important for policy makers to address. Historically, this budget proposal developed in the midst of a slowly improving economy, although unemployment has soared in recent years. Similarly, there is an implicit assumption in the budget that even extreme means are needed to balance the budget and that supporting low income populations is not as important. The policy makers seem to assume that some of their constituency may not view welfare as an essential right, and therefore view it as acceptable to cut. It is assumed that taxing wealthier citizens is justified to provide for the well-being of others in need.
1. What do you think about CalWORKS getting slashed while K-14 education spending increases?
2. What do you think about CA’s budget being based on uncertain revenues that won’t be decided on until November?
3. Gov. Brown said he wants to have these major cuts passed by March 1; is there a benefit of having these cuts authorized so early in the year?
4. Do you think this “balancing act” of funding is justified, where some programs get cut for the benefit of other programs?
a. Are the possible negative effects on children, families and individuals due to the cuts to CalWORKS programs “worth” the proposed positive effects that
come from balancing the budget and increasing funding for education?
5. Who will really be benefitting from the increased spending to schools?
a. Will the possibility of better quality education matter for the children effected by the cuts to CalWORKS?
6. How do you think this budget would contribute to the “cycle of poverty?”
a. What will happen to the thousands of child care providers who rely on government subsidies? How will families be effected if they are no longer eligible
for services and can’t afford child care?
7. What do you think the implications and consequences are that come specifically from reducing the time limits and eligibility for CalWORKS programs?
8. Why do you think that some portions of our society continue to view public assistance as acceptable programs to cut?
9. What alternative suggestions could we pose for the budget?
a. How else could California save money in terms of programs? What other sectors/programs other than CalWORKS could benefit our economy by cutting their
b. Why do you think there is no mention of the prison industrial complex, county jails, and public safety budget? Do our state safety programs need reform?