KPCC: Advocates for California's poor disappointed with Governor's budget

May 19, 2015

Advocates for the state's poor and disabled said Governor Jerry Brown's revised budget doesn't do enough to help the state's most vulnerable.

During the recession, welfare programs in California lost about $15 billion according to Peter Woiwode of the California Partnership, a group that advocates for the state's poor.

Cuts included key programs, such as In-Home Supportive Services and Supplemental Security Income for seniors and the disabled. Woiwode said the result has been a high poverty and "an absolutely tattered social safety net."

Brown proposes to bring back $1.5 billion in spending in the coming fiscal year, which starts in July. Next year's proposed budget is a record $115.3 billion.

Ruthie Goldkorn, an advocate for the disabled based in Moreno Valley, said lawmakers have consistently promised funding would go back to pre-Recession levels.

"I've carried with me for the past two years a newspaper article that says, 'social services will be restored,' and so far that hasn't happened," she said.

Brown's revised budget does make a big push for the working poor. He wants to create an earned income tax credit, basically a tax rebate of $460 to $2,653 a year. 

Legislators, meanwhile, have made some attempts to beef up social programs.

Senator Holly Mitchell introduced a bill that would repeal the "maximum family grant" rule, which prohibits increases in payments for families who have a child while receiving welfare.

Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown has proposed increasing Supplemental Security Payments for seniors and those with disabilities, which have been frozen at $877 per month for years.

"The legislature has been leading on this," said Woiwode. "Governor Brown has indicated that he's willing to make some investment in this area. Now we need to see a bigger, broader plan that gets us back to a place of self-sufficiency."