Report: Public Program Cuts Could Exacerbate State’s Economic Woes
State lawmakers are preparing to cut back on health care and social service programs at the same time that demand for such services is reaching new highs, according to a recent California Budget Project report, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The report found that California lost more than one million non-farm jobs between July 2007 and December 2009. As a result of the climbing unemployment rate, more state residents are seeking out public assistance programs.
For example, between May 2007 and May 2009, about 471,000 Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid program (Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/3).
Enrollment also has gone up in the state's food stamps program and the CalWORKS welfare program.Â Â Â Â Â
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) latest budget proposal includes deep cuts for Medi-Cal and other programs.
Moreover, if the federal government does not fulfill the governor's request for $6.9 billion in extra funds, Schwarzenegger has proposed entirely eliminating In-Home Supportive Services and Healthy Families, California's Children's Health Insurance Program (Glantz, New America Media, 2/4).
The CBP report predicts that the governor's proposed budget cuts would worsen the state's economic situation by denying people the financial support necessary to contribute to local economies.
In addition, many of Schwarzenegger's cuts would lead to the loss of federal matching funds.
Jean Ross, director of CBP, said, "If you look at the governor's proposals for health and human services programs, we will lose $5 billion in federal funds but only save $2 billion in state funding. That's simply bad math."
To improve California's economic situation, Ross recommended that state lawmakers:
- Boost revenues through new tax policies;
- Continue pursuing federal funds; and
- Enact targeted program cuts (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/3).