$190 billion budget awaits action by governor

California Catholic Conference: Budget includes gains for several priority issues, including immigration, human dignity and family life, but falls short on education

Gov. Jerry Brown. (Photo from LA Times)

Governor Brown and Democratic legislative leaders have agreed on significant items in a $190 billion dollar budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. 

Lawmakers voted to approve the budget bill late Thursday, which will now go to the Governor who has until June 30 to sign. Though it is largely approved, the Governor still has the authority to reduce or eliminate any appropriation contained in the budget. 

So far, the approved budget includes gains for several CCC priority issue areas including immigration, human dignity and family life, while making modest gains and leaving something to be desired in other areas such as education.   

Immigration funding received a boost in the final package, including $45 million to expand legal services for immigrants.

There is a one-time $4 million influx to provide legal services for undocumented and immigrant students, faculty and staff. The allocation is part of the University of California “Compromise Package.” The California State University system will receive $7 million.

Lawmakers agreed to allocate $10 million to provide legal defense services for individuals who are current or former recipients of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program.  According to a recent report by the Center for Migration Studies, as of January 2017, approximately 55,000 TPS recipients from El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras live in California—a higher total than any other state.

Lawmakers also included $10 million for continuation of promoting the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) as well as expanded the program to working individuals who are the ages of 18-24 and over the age of 65.  In addition, it expands the qualifying income range for the credit so that employees working up to full-time at the 2019 minimum wage of $12 per hour would qualify for the credit.

The budget also includes $500 million in grants for programs to help communities address homelessness. The majority of that amount will be allocated to Continuums of Care while the remainder will be designated to cities or cities and counties with a population over 300,000.   

The new budget will also fund SB 982, the No Child in Deep Poverty Act. The bill will provide $90 million general funds beginning April 1, 2019 to increase CalWORKs grants to keep children and families out of deep poverty, which is considered to be below 50% of the federal poverty level. 

Though bill language is still being worked out, the budget does include $200 million to support the reversal of CalFresh Cash Out policy for certain cases. Sadly, this has the ability to adversely impact close to 140,000 households in the state by lowering assistance and eligibility for federal programs. Lawmakers are looking at amending bill language to provide state-funded nutrition benefits for those that would lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

For restorative justice, the budget will provide $37.3 million into the Assembly’s Youth Reinvestment Fund, which will fund youth diversion programs, social workers in public defender offices and Native youth diversion programs.

As is typical, the amount of funding used for abortion is buried deep within the budget.  Two programs within MediCal fund abortion but the actual amount used is not detailed.  See our analysis, State and Local Funding of Planned Parenthood. (http://www.cacatholic.org/policies-issues/reverence-life/abortion-procreation/state-and-local-funding-planned-parenthood)

As far as education funding, the new budget had some gains but failed to meet the CCC’s desire for increased funds in other regards.

To help ensure a statewide supply of qualified teachers, the budget compromise does include $75 million for the Teacher Residency Grant Program. The corresponding bill specifies that $50 million is set aside for special education and $25 million for other teacher shortage areas, including Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and bilingual education. 

The CCC is supporting a complementary bill (AB 2547, McCarty) for the recruitment and training of teachers through a residency program.  These funds may be used for resident stipends, tuition assistance, program management or the cost of mentoring and Induction.

While the compromise budget did not adopt modest funding this year for new K-12 teacher professional development tax relief, as a companion measure to SB 1214 (D-Portantino), the CCC-sponsored bill itself is very much alive after passing the Senate with unanimous bipartisan support.  It will now be heard in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee after the summer recess.

Although under pressure to do so, Governor Brown did not budge on substantially augmenting funds for preschool and after-school and summer programs. The compromise budget allows for no new slots for the CA State Preschool program, any expansions in pre-Kindergarten programs, or increases for the After School Education and Safety program.

From California Catholic Conference.

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COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.