Governor To Propose Cuts to Welfare Budget
Health and social service advocates are criticizing a proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to reduce state funding for families on welfare, a move that would help fund a proposed health care expansion and other legislative priorities for the governor, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Zapler, San Jose Mercury News, 1/8). Administration officials say the proposal would save the state $465 million in fiscal year 2007-2008.
Democratic legislators also have voiced opposition to the plan (Benson, Sacramento Bee, 1/8).
The plan would cut aid to children whose parents do not meet the minimum work requirements in the state program, known as CalWORKS. According to state data, 25% of families receiving welfare aid are meeting the minimum work requirements.
The state could face federal penalties of $149 million in the next fiscal year and up to $389 million in five years if the employment compliance rate remains low for welfare recipients, according to officials.
Budget analysts said the rate is low because the state continues to provide financial assistance to families if parents are not working the required hours.
The budget cuts also would affect a program that provides cash grants to children who are citizens but whose parents are undocumented immigrants, a status that prevents the parents from enrolling in CalWORKS. The proposal would set a five-year limit of payments to these families, according to the Los Angeles Times (Halper, Los Angeles Times, 1/8).
Summaries of a recent editorial and opinion piece addressing Schwarzenegger's expected health care reform proposals are provided below.
New York Times: Schwarzenegger's expected proposal to extend health coverage to all children, including those of undocumented immigrants, is "economical and, if anything, quite modest," as millions of adults remain uninsured, a New York Times editorial states. "But the governor's efforts should infect the national health care debate," according to the New York Times. The editorial states, "Putting children first is a good start, because they are usually healthy and cheaper to cover" (New York Times, 1/8).
- Lou Cannon, Los Angeles Times: "Schwarzenegger is ... buoyed by newfound public support for efforts to fix a [health care] system that voters agree with him is broken," Cannon, a biographer of former California Gov. and President Ronald Reagan (R), writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. To achieve a legacy as governor, "Schwarzenegger will have to stand up to the legislative wing of his party," which opposes extending coverage to children of undocumented immigrants, and will have to "placate the Democratic majority, with whom he worked well in 2006," according to Cannon (Cannon, Los Angeles Times, 1/7).
The state will not be able to expand health coverage to uninsured Californians unless it also confronts "the soaring insurance costs that are punishing hard-working families and employers alike," Phil Angelides, outgoing state treasurer and Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2006, writes in a San Jose Mercury News opinion piece. If Schwarzenegger and the Legislature are "serious about reducing health care costs and expanding coverage, they will have to cut health insurers' overhead and profits -- the hidden tax that's socking California businesses and families," Angelides concludes (Angelides, San Jose Mercury News, 1/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.