July 8, 2022
On Sunday, the Governor and state legislature released their 2022-2023 budget agreement, which sets out how the state will spend over $300 billion. The centerpiece of the agreement includes a $17 billion “inflation relief package,” which will offer tax refunds to millions of working Californians and to individuals making as much as half a million dollars. While we still have work to do, we’re excited to share that there’s a lot to celebrate!
The agreement incorporates important measures to address the needs of low-income immigrant communities throughout the state. The state budget plan makes historic, groundbreaking investments for low-income immigrant communities by removing exclusions to Medi-Cal and also expanding the California Food Assistance Program to people over 55, regardless of immigration status (more details on these historic steps are below).
Our fight is far from over. With growing inflation compounding the residual impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrant communities have become increasingly vulnerable. The budget misses critical opportunities to ensure the full inclusion of all Californians, regardless of immigration status. For example, we are disappointed that funding for unemployment benefits for excluded immigrant workers and food assistance for income-eligible Californians below 55 years old were not included in this current state budget plan.
CIPC, along with our partners, will continue advocating for full inclusion of our immigrant neighbors and friends. Just like we worked together to make #Health4All a reality, we will continue to push for what is outlined in our Immigrant Equity Budget to ensure that California is equitable for all. Our work continues.
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This year, California made history by becoming the first state in the nation to offer comprehensive health benefits to all income-eligible undocumented adults. The state budget this year includes funding to remove exclusions to health care for income-eligible undocumented Californians ages 26-49, closing the age gap in #Health4All. This victory is the result of nearly a decade of dedicated advocacy, and CIPC is grateful to the Health4All coalition, our legislative champions, and state leadership for making this possible.
In California, undocumented adults make up the largest remaining uninsured group. This state budget plan includes $834 million ($625 million from the General Fund) in 2023-24 and $2.6 billion ($2.1 billion in General Funds) each fiscal year after that to close this gap, beginning January 1, 2024. This proposal would finally end the exclusion of around 700,000 income-eligible adult Californians ages 26 to 49 from full-scope Medi-Cal. This builds upon prior policies granting Medi-Cal access to kids, young adults, and older adults ages 50 and above.
However, because this program will not be implemented until January 1, 2024, an estimated 40,000 undocumented young adults could lose full-scope Medi-Cal coverage before then due to “aging out” before the expansion to 26-year-olds goes into effect. CIPC continues to urge the administration to maintain continuity of care for these young adults, who are currently set to potentially experience a lapse in coverage.
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California will also be the first state in the nation to provide state-funded food assistance to undocumented adults! In the June final budget, the governor and the legislature agreed to provide $35.2 million, increasing to $113.4 million annually in 2025-2026, to expand the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to Californians age 55 and older, regardless of immigration status – providing critical support after years of racist exclusions. While we are thrilled to celebrate this historic step, we know our work must continue. Hundreds of thousands of Californians under the age of 55 will continue to be excluded from CalFresh and CFAP due to their immigration status, including undocumented children– 64% of whom are affected by food insecurity.
The exact implementation date for the CFAP expansion to individuals ages 55 and older is still to be determined by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). The CFAP expansion is contingent on the completion of the state’s transition onto CalSAWS (Statewide Automated Welfare System), the new integrated eligibility and case management system that supports key public assistance programs. The human services budget trailer bill (AB 187) also includes provisions that do not prevent CFAP applicants from being asked to present a Social Security Number or meet the federal Food Stamp Program work requirement or other work requirements.
Food assistance programs like CalFresh and CFAP reduce food insecurity, improve health, and mitigate poverty in the long-term—with an outsized impact on immigrant communities. As rising food prices eat away at the grocery budgets of low-income California residents, the Food4All coalition will continue to advocate for the removal of ALL exclusions from CFAP, regardless of age or immigration status.
We will need your support to urge the governor and legislature to invest in Food4All and create a California where we all have a plate at the dinner table.
Sign up for updates and share your story to help us keep the drum beat going! Please join us in celebrating this win and continuing to push for #Food4All by sharing the sample social media messages and graphics in the following #Food4All Social Media Toolkit.
The #SafetyNet4All Coalition has been working since 2020 to get the governor and the legislature to fund excluded workers in the state budget. Unfortunately, this year’s budget deal still fails to include the coalition’s proposal for an Excluded Workers program, which would provide $300 a week for up to 20 weeks to immigrant workers who lose their job and are excluded from Unemployment Insurance due to their status.
We won’t stop here. Momentum is growing for an Excluded Workers program. This year alone, 23 legislators and over 100 organizations signed on in support of the coalition’s budget proposal and on June 2, 400 worker leaders from all across the state hand delivered over 25,000 petition signatures to the governor’s office. The coalition’s bill, AB 2847, is also sailing through the legislature. Together, we’re making our call loud and clear: The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t the first, and won’t be the last crisis to put people out of work, and small, one-time payments are not enough. Our communities can’t wait any longer. We need unemployment benefits for excluded immigrant workers NOW, and we won’t stop until we win. We need your support now more than ever. Share this tweet and join us!
There are additional notable budget items that affect immigrant communities. We have summarized them below: