Women and Families Left Out of CA Budget Revise
The California state budget impacts more policy decisions in this state than many Californians realize. The Stronger California Advocates Network, which is promoting an agenda to ensure women’s economic security, believes that the budget’s allocation of our tax dollars must reflect the priorities of California’s communities. As part of the Stronger California agenda we have joined the California Legislative Women’s Caucus to work to increase access to child care and income assistance for California’s families who are most in need.
On May 13, California Governor Jerry Brown released his revised state budget. It does not adequately address the needs of poor families who are being punished by a reduced child care subsidy budget and the continued existence of a rule denying income assistance to women who have babies while receiving state support. Fortunately, time remains to influence the Governor’s final budget, as well as to advance legislation accomplishing related policy initiatives.
“The California state budget is ours,” said Noreen Farrell Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates and chair of the Stronger California campaign. “Let’s make women and families the priorities they should be.”
Access to affordable child care
Child care advocates within the Stronger California Network are working to restore child care assistance to pre-2008 levels, when nearly $1 billion was cut from child care programs. While the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Stronger California Advocates Network called for $800 million in state funding for child care, the revised budget does not include any new child care funding.
“We are disappointed that the Governor doesn’t see that investing in child care is central to his mission of an industrious and economically secure state,” said Mary Ignatius of Parent Voices, lead of the child care pillar of the Stronger California agenda. “His proposal contributes $6.7 billion to the rainy day fund, while declining to allocate just 0.7% of that to opening up access to child care. For the working mothers that the Stronger California Advocates Network supports, it’s raining now. They can’t work without child care and they can’t pay for child care without working. They are taking pay cuts and turning down promotions because of decade-old income guidelines. We must invest in child care for the working mothers who are suffering right now.”
Support for poor families
The Governor’s budget is silent on advocates’ calls for repeal of the maximum family grant rule, which limits CalWORKS benefits for mothers who have babies while receiving assistance. Fortunately leadership within the state legislature is standing strong behind the repeal, announcing they intend to prioritize it in the legislature’s budget proposal.
“We are incredibly encouraged by the strong support of Pro Tem Kevin de León and Speaker Anthony Rendon that this will be the year the maximum family grant rule is repealed,” said Jessica Bartholow, policy advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty and lead of the anti-poverty pillar of the Stronger California agenda. “For more than two decades, the maximum family grant rule has punished mothers of color, poor mothers, and children. The rule’s insistence that women prove they were raped or that their birth control failed in order to secure an exception to the rule is in violation of mothers’ right to privacy and families’ reproductive choices.”
The California Legislature will continue to debate Stronger California budget and legislative initiatives over the next three months. What is your vision for the state of California? You can take action to support these bills and others on the agenda, or you can sign up for our mailing list.
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