Update on Social Service Cutbacks

January 27, 2009

Not as bad as I frst reported two weeks ago from contact in Sacramento, but not good. especially if we can’t find a bottom.

Record staff writer
January 26, 2009 6:00 AM

The state Legislative Analyst’s Office on Thursday released a report – in part a response to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to cut spending on social services by about $3 billion – that details alternate spending proposals for programs that help poor, disabled and other needy Californians.

According to the analyst, the proposals offer more modest savings than the governor’s but could be less detrimental to people – including thousands in San Joaquin County – who rely on a range of public services.

Statewide, their numbers could grow as the economy continues to falter.

California currently spends more than $10 billion a year on cash aid to the disabled and poor, on child care and other services related to the state welfare-to-work program, and on home care for low-income seniors and residents with disabilities.

» CalWORKs: The governor proposes reducing the amount of welfare assistance families receive each month and limiting the amount of child-care assistance available. The administration also would limit to five years the amount of time children can receive welfare payments if their parents don’t meet work requirements. Currently, children continue receiving welfare benefits even if their parents lose them as part of a “safety-net” program. The Analyst’s Office supports reduced welfare payments, suggesting that families’ lost state aid would be partially offset by the federal food stamp program. But instead of halting all children’s benefits after five years, the office suggests modifying the safety-net program so that parents who aren’t working would be required to complete at least 20 hours of community service per week in their counties in order for their children to continue getting aid.

» Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Program: The state and federal programs provide monthly cash payments to low-income seniors and people with disabilities. The governor proposes reducing those payments and eliminating altogether a similar program that offers cash aid to legal immigrants. The LAO suggests smaller reductions and lower payments to couples who are above the federal poverty line. With regard to immigrants, the LAO said many refugees may be able for a federally funded program that would provide similar help.

» In-home care: The governor proposes lowering to about $8 an hour the wages of people who provide in-home care to the elderly and disabled. The LAO proposes lowering those wages to $10 per hour and to minimum wage for people who are caring for a close relative. The state now pays up to $12.10 an hour.

For the full report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, go to http://www.lao.ca.gov/analysis_2009/ss/ss_anl09.pdf

Contact Jennifer Torres at 209 546-8258 or jtorres@recordnet.com.

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