On June 28th, 2019 Governor Gavin Newsom signed his first budget bill. The budget addresses spending in the areas of early childcare, education, safety net programs, housing and homelessness. The budget provides relief for many Californians and moves forward with many of the hard fought policy battles that have taken place over the years.
Early childcare and K-12 education will experience many positive increases. The budget will add 12,400 new slots in child care centers across the state, with many of them being reserved for low-income families, earmarks $195 million in funds for training child-care workers, and adds an additional $56 million for child-care services for parents enrolled in CalWorks.
Full day kindergarten classes across the state will be expanded, extra funds for special education and pays off liabilities for schools which will help ease the struggles that have led many teachers to strike.
Even colleges across California will experience some positive changes. Cal-grant award availability will expand for low to middle income students by an estimate of 15,250 awards and student parents could also be eligible for $96 million in new funding for non-tuition expenses. For first-time students, two years of community school will be free and Graduation Initiative 2025 will help college students graduate in four years.
The budget also addresses impacts on some safety net programs. Medi-Cal will receive an additional $36 billion in investment to restore coverage for services that were taken away during the recession such as optical, podiatry, and speech therapy. Two additional changes with Medi-Cal is the new eligibility for undocumented people under 26 and the removal of the “senior penalty” which will make the income limit for seniors equal to that of younger Californians.
CalWorks will finally help families avoid harsher poverty with the repeal of the assets test for anyone with less than $10,000 in assets and the grants will see an increase. The program will now also increase the earned income disregard from $224 to $500 which means that families will be able to transition off the program much more smoothly than before.
Many families will also see an increase in the amount of their California Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal-EITC) and the budget increases the state’s paid family leave plan from 6 weeks to 8 weeks.
The budget allocates $650 million one-time to support local governments in alleviating the homelessness crisis. In addition, incentives are included for local governments to build more housing and penalties for those who do not.
This is good news for a lot of the areas that we have advocated for. However, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) grant amounts saw no change and the Cal-EITC will not include ITIN households. Furthermore some people believe that the penalties for localities refusing to build more housing has navigable loopholes and some of the spending has a sunset due to an anticipated recession.
For a deeper look, please take a look at Western Center on Law and Poverty.
Sergio Martinez is a Master’s student at the University of San Francisco in the Urban and Public Affairs program. His interests are in economic justice and equal opportunity for every person. He is a policy intern at Rise Together.