By CalMatters reporter Felicia Mello
Advocates for low-income Californians said they’re concerned about roughly $295 million in proposed cuts to services for welfare recipients in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2024-25 budget proposal, even as they expressed relief that the governor had avoided bigger clawbacks to social services.
Newsom’s proposal would maintain state tax credits for poor families, while expanding Medi-Cal to cover all undocumented immigrants and increasing the minimum payouts in CalFresh benefits, anti-poverty organizations noted.
But the proposal would trim programs that help welfare recipients find jobs, assist them with urgent housing or mental health needs, and subsidize the employers who hire them.
“It’s going to be hugely impactful for the people that we’re serving,” said Eileen Cubanski, acting executive director for the County Welfare Directors Association of California. “When we’re talking about our poorest families in moments of crisis, where you can throw some services and supports at them to actually help stabilize them, that’s a big loss for us.”
In total, Newsom wants to withdraw $13 billion from the state’s reserves and to trim spending on climate and housing as he seeks to close what his office estimates is a $38 billion shortfall after tax receipts came in late and lower than expected in 2023.
Programs that help foster youth are also on the chopping block, including housing assistance and a hotline for foster care families in crisis.
Those proposed cuts, disproportionately affecting youth of color, come as lawmakers are weighing reparations for Black Californians, noted Brandon Greene, policy director for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
“When we’re talking about things like racialized inequity, and how that begins with children and proceeds through early adulthood, things like these transitional programs being targeted for foster youth take on more importance,” he said.
The governor will submit an updated budget in May based on new revenue estimates, before lawmakers pass the final version by June 15.
Felicia Mello covers the state’s economic divide. Prior to this role, she was editor for CalMatters’ College Journalism Network, a collaboration with student journalists across California to cover higher education from the ground up. Her reporting on affordability, equity and innovation at California colleges and universities has earned awards from the California News Publishers Association and the Society for Professional Journalists Northern California chapter. She was a finalist for the Education Writers Association’s beat reporting prize in 2018. Felicia came to CalMatters from Las Vegas, where she built the digital team at Vegas Seven magazine and served as the Nevada reporter for the Center for Public Integrity’s nationwide investigation of transparency in state governments. She has also contributed stories to The Washington Post, The Nation, NPR and CNN’s Parts Unknown, among others. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from UC Berkeley.
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