Breaking Down the Governor’s Budget Proposal

Our leaders’ decisions about where to allocate resources demonstrate their values and principles. Last week, when Gov. Gavin Newsom released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2024-2025, he affirmed that providing Medi-Cal to all Californians, regardless of immigration status, remains a decisive priority for his administration. The California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) commends the governor for upholding his promise to communities that have waited far too long to access health care. 

We are also pleased to see that Gov. Newsom’s budget generally maintains other commitments as well, largely avoiding cuts despite an anticipated $38 billion budget deficit. But much more is needed to address inequities that prevail in California, the 5th largest economy in the world and home to immense corporate and individual wealth. Many Californians continue to be shut out from economic and civic opportunity, including immigrant Californians who remain excluded from legal representation and some of our most basic support systems.

Our representatives must use every available tool to deliver on their pledge to make “California for all,” such as asking the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share. Together, we must ensure leaders don’t lose sight of our shared values in the face of revenue swings, corporate interests, and the cynical politics of highly charged elections.

This year, CIPC will advocate for budget investments to fix some of the biggest problems facing immigrant Californians today: lack of universal representation to help navigate an immigration system that separates families, harmful exclusions that leave our communities hungry and sick, and persistent inequality that fractures our state. 

Read below to learn more about our budget priorities as well as our full analysis of how the governor’s budget proposal would impact immigrant communities.

CIPC’s Budget Priorities 

Immigration Legal Services:

If implemented, Gov. Newsom’s proposed fiscal year 2024-25 budget would cut immigration legal services funding by $15.2 million for people applying for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and for students, parents, and families at California State universities. The budget proposal maintains $45 million for the One California program, which provides critical legal, education, and outreach services that help people access benefits and immigration relief. 

However, immigrant Californians who have had past contact with the criminal legal system are denied these services and forced to represent themselves in immigration court against trained ICE attorneys. This year, CIPC, alongside the Rep4All coalition and One California coalition, will advocate to expand immigration legal services funding and access to legal representation for all Californians who are seeking legal services.


The governor’s proposed budget anticipates difficult financial conditions, economic uncertainty, and a continued climate crisis, which could threaten the jobs of Californians in high-risk industries and communities. Immigrant workers could be among the most impacted by these conditions and would likely struggle the most if they lose their jobs, because they continue to be excluded from unemployment insurance, despite the fact that taxes on their labor contribute over $300 million to the system every year. Lawmakers mustn’t let an immigrant family’s missed paycheck spiral into missed rent, missed meals, and missed healthcare, especially in such a volatile climate and economy.

CIPC and the Safety Net for All coalition are continuing to advocate for an Excluded Workers Program, which would provide assistance to workers who are excluded from unemployment insurance due to their immigration status and who lose their jobs. An Excluded Workers Program would help create fairness and equity for immigrant families, so that all Californians can thrive. 


Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget would maintain commitments made in previous budgets to expand CalFresh to all income-eligible Californians ages 55 and older, regardless of immigration status, through the state-funded California Food Assistance Program. This historic expansion of food benefits will be implemented on Oct. 1, 2025. However, without further action, CalFresh will continue to exclude Californians ages 54 and below due to their immigration status. 

The Food4All coalition will continue to advocate for CalFresh access for all. Nearly half (45 percent) of undocumented Californians and two out of three undocumented children are affected by food insecurity, according to recent data from UCLA’s California Health Interview Survey. No one should be excluded from food assistance, because all Californians benefit when everyone can afford to put food on the table. For more information about Food4All and ways to get involved in the campaign, visit our website here!


After a decade of organizing and advocacy by CIPC and the Health4All coalition, California has become the first state in the country to offer Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California) to all low-income residents, regardless of immigration status. We are pleased that the governor reaffirmed his commitment to this policy in his budget proposal by including $2.9 billion from the state’s general fund in fiscal year 2024-25.

To inform community members about the Medi-Cal expansion and how to enroll, we have compiled a Resource Roundup with informational materials developed by partners and agencies in different languages. Please share these widely! 

While we celebrate this milestone, we are concerned that more than a half million Californians remain excluded from the Covered California health insurance marketplace due to their immigration status. CIPC will continue our efforts to remove immigration status as a barrier to health care by advancing Assembly Bill 4 (Arambula) and an accompanying budget request. 

Additional Details of the Governor’s Budget Proposal: 


  • Medi-Cal: The governor’s proposed budget would maintain funding for the CalAIM initiative to address social determinants of health through Medi-Cal by covering services such as housing assistance.
  • Health care worker minimum wage: Last year, CIPC supported efforts to raise the minimum wage for health care workers to $25/hour, to be implemented incrementally starting this June. The governor proposes to add conditions to delay these increases, making them subject to availability of funds.
  • Covered California: Last year, CIPC supported the Care4All coalition’s efforts to secure state funding for financial assistance to lower copays for consumers buying health insurance through the Covered California marketplace. The budget maintains this funding ($165 million annually).

If you’re interested in learning more about our Health4All work, please contact Policy Analyst Carlos Alarcón at For other health issues, contact Policy Director Sarah Dar at

Human Services 

  • Food Assistance: The governor’s proposed budget includes $15 million to fund the CalFresh Minimum Nutrition Benefit Pilot Program, which would raise the minimum CalFresh monthly benefit for households of 1-2 people from $23 to $50 in three counties. It also includes a $112 million funding increase for universal school meals, to keep serving all students in fiscal year 2024-25. These programs help address food insecurity among those immigrant and refugee households that qualify for CalFresh or have children (regardless of immigration status) enrolled in K-12 schools. 
  • CalWORKs: The proposed budget would maintain funding for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs); however, the governor proposes ongoing cuts to Family Stabilization and Expanded Subsidized Employment services within the CalWORKs program. CalWORKs provides temporary cash assistance and welfare-to-work services to low-income families with children. Unfortunately, undocumented and many lawfully present immigrants are ineligible for CalWORKs.  
  • CAPI: The proposed budget would maintain funding for the state-funded Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI). These monthly cash benefits help aged, blind, and disabled individuals, who are ineligible for the federal Supplemental Security Income program due to their immigration status, cover their basic living expenses. Unfortunately, undocumented and some lawfully present immigrants are ineligible for CAPI.

If you’re interested in learning more about our Food4All and anti-hunger/nutrition work, contact Policy Manager Benyamin Chao at For other human services issues, contact Policy Director Sarah Dar at

Economic Justice

  • Labor and Workforce Development Fund: The Labor and Workforce Development Fund (LWDF) funds crucial programs that ensure labor laws protect all workers, like the California Workplace Outreach Project and the Domestic Worker and Employer Education and Outreach Program (DWEOP). CIPC is disappointed to see that the governor’s proposed budget would take $125 million from LWDF to fill budget gaps, given the fund’s critical role in helping immigrant workers understand and enforce their rights in the workplace. 
  • Farmworkers’ Rights: The governor’s proposed budget recommends $8.3 million annually for three years from the LWDF to educate rural workers and farmworkers about their rights, increase access to state services, and improve state labor enforcement programs. 
  • Domestic Workers’ Rights: The proposed budget would maintain the state’s commitment to California’s household workers, with no changes to last year’s budget allocation for a permanent DWEOP. This is a key step in ensuring that immigrant household workers understand their current labor protections. To learn more about the California Domestic Workers Coalition, contact Bry Gonzalez at
  • Workforce Development: The proposed budget includes a $100 million reduction in funding and $734.5 million in funding delays for various workforce development programs, including a $45 million reduction in funding for the High Road Training Partnerships, a $300 million funding delay for California Jobs First (formerly known as the Community Economic Resilience Fund), a $40 million delay to the Apprenticeship Innovation Fund, and a $25 million delay to the California Youth Apprenticeship Program. The budget does not renew funding for the Workplace Literacy Pilot Program, nor does it propose any new investments in workforce development programs that target immigrants. However, CIPC is pleased to see that funding for some critical workforce development programs that benefit immigrant communities, such as the Breaking Barriers to Employment Program and the Local Immigrant Inclusion Grant, was maintained. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our workforce development work, please contact Economic Justice Policy Analyst Edgar Ortiz at For our workers’ rights and SafetyNet4All work, contact Economic Justice Policy Analyst Daniela Alvarenga at  

Detention & Deportation

California has a long way to go to sufficiently address historically racist policies criminalizing Californians who are immigrants and people of color. We cannot continue to waste state funding on carceral systems that separate families and destabilize communities. CIPC will continue to work to reduce the powers of the policing and the prison system and reinvesting state funds for social programs that keep communities together and safe.

  • Missed Opportunity to Close 5 State Prisons and Generate $1 Billion in Savings: The proposed budget would allocate nearly $14.5 billion for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. California spends about $106,000 per person incarcerated per year and incarcerates 94,222 people annually in over 32 prisons with 62,400 staff positions. CIPC supports the Legislative Analyst Office’s recommendation to close five state prisons by 2027, generating nearly $1 billion in annual ongoing cost savings that could be reinvested to help Californians transition back into their communities and thrive.
  • Migration and Border Communities: The governor’s proposed budget has no additional funding for the Rapid Response program beyond the one-time, $150 million investment made last year. The program funds community-based organizations that provide shelter and legal and humanitarian services to people seeking refuge after being released by immigration authorities at the California-Mexico border. These funds have since been depleted due to the high demand for these critical services. California should expand, not abandon, our response to this humanitarian emergency. 
  • Divesting and Investing: An estimated $87.8 million in savings from Prop 47, passed with 60 percent support of California voters in 2014 to reallocate funds from prisons to community programs, is proposed for education programs, mental health and substance use treatment services, and victims’ services.
  • Policing Poverty: Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget offers $373.5 million over four years to address retail theft despite the fact that statewide shoplifting rates remain below their 2019, pre-pandemic levels and despite the National Retail Federation’s recent retraction of a claim that organized crime accounted for half of stores’ annual losses. Policies that increase criminal penalties further criminalize poverty. Investments in health, reentry, and safety net services are a smarter solution to prevent crime.

If you’re interested in learning more about our work to divest from detention, deportation, and incarceration and invest in access to immigration legal services, contact Policy Manager Bruno Huizar at