Does the 2023-2024 Budget reflect your values? Let’s take a look 

Last week, the Legislature and Governor Newsom reached their 2023-2024 budget agreement, a package of several bills detailing how California will spend $310 billion, manage a deficit, and maintain reserves for future uncertainty. 

In response to the state’s multi-billion dollar budget deficit, the three-party agreement is a bittersweet reflection of California’s priorities and values. While the budget agreement prevents cuts to critical programs that immigrant communities rely on, there are still major gaps in the investments needed to build an equitable, resilient, and thriving California. 

At a glance, the 2023-2024 state budget:

  • Continues support for #Food4All with the expansion of the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to income-eligible residents aged 55 and over, regardless of immigration status. Recognizing the urgency of the need, the state budget sets the CFAP expansion to begin in October 2025, instead of January 2027 as proposed earlier by the Governor.
  • Maintains the state’s commitment to funding Medi-Cal eligibility for undocumented adults aged 26-49, making California the first state in the nation to ensure that all income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status, have access to full-scope Medi-Cal.
  • Invests $150 million for shelters and services to welcome people and families with dignity at the border and provide humanitarian support.
  • Makes permanent, and invests $35 million in, the Domestic Worker Rights Education and Outreach Program to promote domestic workers’ rights. 
  • Invests $5 million for the Breaking Barriers to Employment Initiative (BBEI) which provides funding for community-based organizations to provide education and employment services to workers regardless of immigration status. 
  • Fails to include an investment for #SafetyNet4All to provide unemployment benefits to excluded immigrant workers. 

None of what was won this year would have been possible without the tireless advocacy of our partners and community members. When we come together, speak up and show up, we can push our leaders to do better.  

Despite being the fourth largest economy in the world, California has some of the highest levels of economic inequities and poverty in the country. Earlier this year, leaders in the Legislature proposed additional solutions to the state’s budget shortfall, including new taxes on the wealthy and corporations that, if enacted, could have raised revenues to support additional investments in resources for immigrant communities and communities of color. Unfortunately, none of these solutions had the political support to be included in the final budget deal. 

Instead, much of California’s prosperity continues to be concentrated among a select few. If we want all Californians to be able to thrive amidst inflation, high housing costs, climate disasters, and economic uncertainty, California’s leadership must take bold steps to ensure we have the resources we need, now and in the future, to build a true California for All. 

Economic Justice:

SafetyNet4AllWe are disheartened and disappointed that unemployment benefits for excluded immigrant workers were not included in the three-party budget deal, despite the Legislature including a compromise to establish an Excluded Workers Program work group in their two-party agreement. The coalition still made tremendous strides this year. Thanks to the constant advocacy of the coalition’s members and worker leaders, the Safety Net for All proposal was included as a Senate budget priority and secured dedicated budget subcommittee hearings in the Senate and the Assembly. 

The Governor’s exclusion of the Safety Net for All proposal regretfully ignores the urgent needs of immigrant workers facing economic uncertainty and climate disasters. Investing in state unemployment benefits for excluded workers is necessary to ensure the state’s economic resilience and equal protection for all workers. Our coalition will continue working with the Legislature and Governor this session to push for the inclusion of a workgroup in the 2023-2024 budget. 

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Domestic Workers’ Health and Safety: We are pleased to see the Domestic Workers Education and Outreach program made permanent and a $35 million investment to continue promoting domestic workers rights. In California, there are over 300,000 domestic workers, 75 percent of whom are immigrant women of color who have been historically excluded from the most basic labor protections. Our federal and state laws’ failure to recognize domestic work as real work has left domestic workers particularly vulnerable to workplace injuries and illness, with little to no recourse or rights to preventative measures. Whether you work in an office, a factory, or a home, all Californians deserve a healthy and safe workplace. The California Domestic Workers Coalition will continue to work on ending the exclusion of domestic workers from Cal/OSHA, the state’s health and safety protections. 

Follow the California Domestic Workers Coalition here to get involved in their campaign for health and safety for all workers. 

Workforce Development: We are heartened to see some positive investments in workforce development that can provide support to immigrant communities. The budget allocates an additional $5 million to the Breaking Barriers to Employment Initiative (BBEI), which funds organizations to develop training and education programs to support immigrant workers and other communities facing barriers to employment. Additionally, the Budget Act expands the CalVolunteers Youth Job Corps to include undocumented immigrant youth with work authorization (such as those with DACA).  This program creates public service career pathways through wrap-around services and employment opportunities related to COVID-19 recovery, food insecurity, and climate action for young people aged 16-30. Unfortunately, the budget also reduces $10 million per year in funding from the California Youth Leadership Program Language Justice Pathway, an immigrant youth earn-and-learn program through community colleges and community organizations.

Workers’ Rights: In addition, we are happy to see that the budget renames the California COVID-19 Workplace Outreach Program as the California Workplace Outreach Program (CWOP), signaling a commitment to expanding the program to more broadly support workers beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes $25 million for the program for the next two years. CWOP saved lives during the pandemic through outreach to workers in low-wage industries regarding health and safety laws and their workplace rights. Furthermore, the budget invests $18 million to bolster the capacity of local city attorneys to enforce workers’ rights laws through the Workers Rights Enforcement Grant Program, and invests $7.4 million to investigate claims of retaliation against workers. However, we are concerned that $306 million will be transferred from the Unemployment Compensation Disability Fund to pay off Unemployment Insurance loan interest payments, reducing the amount of funding available to pay for workers’ disability and paid family leave claims. 


Health4All: We are pleased that Governor Newsom and the Legislature’s shared commitment to Health4All remains unwavering despite concerns about the deficit. The final budget maintains funding for the planned implementation of Medi-Cal eligibility for undocumented adults aged 26-49 beginning on Jan. 1, 2024. This will close the remaining eligibility gap for immigrants in our state’s most widely utilized safety net program and makes California the first state in the nation to do so.

Covered California: We are also pleased that Governor Newsom has agreed to maintain a commitment to using revenue generated from the state’s “individual mandate” penalty directly toward reducing out-of-pocket costs for individuals and families purchasing health care coverage from the Covered California insurance marketplace. The penalty is a fine paid by taxpayers who go without health insurance. The governor had previously proposed to put money raised from that fine back into the state’s General Fund. But advocates and legislators pushed for it to be spent directly on bringing down health care costs for lower- and middle-income Californians who still struggle to afford health care through Covered California. This is a significant development for the #Health4All Campaign, which has set a new goal to end the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from Covered California.

Health Workforce: The budget includes $15 million to recruit, train, and certify community health workers (CHWs). This is a partial restoration from the funding delays proposed in the Governor’s January budget proposal. CHWs play a key role in combating inequity by helping immigrant and other historically underserved communities navigate and access health care and health education, including undocumented individuals who will be newly eligible for Medi-Cal due to Health4All implementation.

Human Services:

Food4All: The budget moves up the implementation date for expanding the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to California immigrants aged 55 and older, regardless of immigration status, to October 2025 from January 2027, as originally proposed by the Governor in his January budget proposal. We are thrilled that our elder immigrant community will soon have access to critical food benefits thanks to the strong advocacy of the #Food4All coalition, which pushed back against the delay in CFAP expansion that was initially proposed. However, we are disappointed to find that the budget still excludes Californians aged 54 and below from accessing food benefits through CFAP due to their immigration status. Moving forward, we continue to urge Governor Newsom and the Legislature to end the exclusion of all Californians from CFAP, regardless of age or immigration status, and include funding for a full CFAP expansion in the next budget cycle. 

To learn more about why these exclusions must be ended, check out our latest Food4All data snapshot.

Summer EBT: The budget approves the creation of a new Summer EBT program, which will provide $40 per month in food benefits during summer months. The new program will reach approximately four million school-age children beginning in Summer 2024. In December 2022, Congress authorized Summer EBT as a permanent, nationwide program and the program will bring about $480 million in federally funded food benefits to California. 

CalFresh Pilot Projects: The budget includes funding for several pilot projects for the CalFresh program, which will result in augmented monthly food benefits for eligible CalFresh recipients. It establishes the CalFresh Minimum Nutrition Benefit Pilot Program, a $15 million pilot program to raise monthly minimum food benefits to $50 minimum from the current minimum of $23. Furthermore, the budget extends the CalFresh Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Project, which provides matching dollars for purchasing fruits and vegetables with EBT cards. Lastly, the budget extends the CalFresh Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Project, which provides matching dollars for purchasing fruits and vegetables with EBT cards.

CAPI: The budget unfortunately does not include funds for a policy change to end the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) program. The state-funded CAPI program provides monthly cash benefits to aged, blind, and disabled individuals who are ineligible for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) due solely to their immigration status (sadly, undocumented and some lawfully present immigrants are ineligible for both SSI and CAPI). This assistance would have been particularly timely as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic that disproportionately impacted communities that already face the greatest barriers to health and economic stability, including older undocumented adults and undocumented people with disabilities.

Detention & Deportation:

The budget includes the Governor’s proposed one-time $150 million allocation to the Rapid Response Fund for continued humanitarian efforts, in partnership with local non-profit organizations, to welcome individuals and families seeking asylum and humanitarian protection and support their safe passage in border communities in California. The state funding has allowed nonprofit and faith-based organizations in San Diego, Imperial, and Riverside counties to provide medical, shelter, legal, and social services to hundreds of thousands of individuals and families seeking humanitarian protection in the U.S. since 2019. 

With the lifting of Title 42 on May 12th, California’s border communities are in urgent need of sustainable sources of funding and resources to address the expected increase of individuals and families in need of humanitarian and legal support. We applaud the Governor’s proposed investment to support individuals and families seeking safe haven in our state, and urge the Governor to continue to invest in humanitarian response in partnership with local nonprofits in border communities to welcome individuals and families with dignity in California.