January 12, 2021
This year California is operating with a $15 billion surplus because Wall Street did significantly better than main street in 2020. The wealthiest Californians thrived during this pandemic, while low-income families and workers barely survived. After last week’s proposed state budget, the surplus provides our state legislators and governor a chance to propose bold policies that could boost economic recovery for those most affected. Key investments in health equity, the safety net, and worker justice will support immigrant and low-income communities, and spur long-term state fiscal growth.
While Governor Newsom’s recently proposed budget, on January 8, prioritizes important investments in immigrant communities, such as state stimulus with cash assistance to those who qualify for the CalEITC, continued funding for legal services for immigrants, and small small business grants, many families will still be forced to choose between their personal health and economic security.
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across California and communities navigate an economic downturn that has left many vulnerable or unemployed, the state’s budget must ensure every Californian is able to recover and thrive. The proposed budget continues to delay Medi-Cal expansions to undocumented seniors who are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19. Many workers and families excluded from federal relief and the full extent of state relief, continue to struggle and this year’s budget continues to shut undocumented workers out of safety net programs such as unemployment insurance, wage replacement, and debt forgiveness for those struggling to pay rent.
Although we have seen our nation split apart by white nationalism and xenophobia, we have also seen the power of our collective organizing across the nation. After years of education and activation, Georgia voters went to the polls and ushered in historic change. In California, our fight for economic justice expanded the CalEITC to include ITIN filers—low-income immigrant workers and families who had been left out of a critical poverty fighting credit—after a multi-year campaign. These are reminders that when we come together and harness our diverse power, we can push for progressive, inclusive and equitable policies that truly create a California for all. This year we will continue to fight for policies that include all immigrant workers, health care for everyone regardless of status, and a strong, accessible social safety net.
Director of Government Affairs
Health4All: The governor’s administration continues to focus on curbing the spread of the coronavirus. This includes proposed budget expenditures for testing, contact tracing, and ramping up vaccine distribution—some of which is subsidized by federal funding. Nearly 80% of all Californians who have died from COVID-19 in 2020 were seniors, age 65 or older. Almost a year into a pandemic whose heaviest burden has fallen on low-income Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) communities and older adults, comprehensive health coverage and preventative care for low-income immigrant seniors should be a cardinal priority.
And yet, the budget proposal does not include a commitment to cover all income-eligible seniors ages 65 and older, regardless of immigration status, in Medi-Cal, as originally embraced in last year’s proposed budget. The Governor’s statements about the budget pay much lip service to the centrality of racial equity in the state’s recovery and the need to focus on our aging population most vulnerable during the pandemic, while in the same breath citing budget constraints in response to direct questions raised about why immigrant seniors remain left behind. These glaringly contradictory messages belie the “equitable” pandemic response that California’s immigrant communities await.
As a reminder, last year’s final 2020-2021 budget deal stated that Medi-Cal expansion for undocumented seniors could be implemented only on the condition that the Department of Finance (DOF), in making budget projections for an upcoming fiscal year, determines that the balance in the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainty (a state fund of general reserves) exceeds the estimated cost of the expansion for the upcoming fiscal year as well as three subsequent years.
This indefinite delay of Health4All Seniors allows historically discriminatory policies to remain in place and keeps undocumented seniors locked out of accessing life-saving care when they are at highest risk of COVID-19. Despite the current fiscal challenges, our state’s response to this pandemic must be one grounded in equity, or it will fail to shield already marginalized Californians from the devastating impact of the crisis. By balancing the budget at the expense of this community, our state leaders will exacerbate the deep health and economic disparities that plague our state. CIPC and the Health4All Coalition will continue to lead the charge for this health care expansion—now even more critical—to be implemented as soon as possible.
CalEITC and State Stimulus: Last year, the CalEITC coalition was successful in removing the harmful exclusion of ITIN filers from the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and Young Child Tax Credit. Beginning January 1, 2021, anyone who files their taxes with an ITIN and earned less than $30,000 in 2020 can be eligible to receive up to $3,982 from the CalEITC and Young Child Tax Credit, depending on income and the number of children in their household. Find out how much money you could get from the CalEITC. For more information on the new expansion or how to claim the credit, check out CIPC’s NEW CalEITC Factsheets.
In this year’s budget, Governor Newsom proposed that everyone who receives the CalEITC would also get an additional $600, as part of a new Golden State Stimulus program for COVID-19 relief. ITIN filers could receive this payment and the CalEITC when they file their 2020 tax return. The Legislative Analyst’s Office, which reviews the Governor’s budget proposal, suggested that the Governor and Legislature could go even further to target resources to people left out of federal relief by providing up to $1800 in tax credits specifically for ITIN filers.
We know that the state needs to do so much more to make sure everyone, regardless of status, is able to get critical financial resources to take care of themselves and their families. This is an immensely important step and CIPC will be advocating alongside community partners for additional investments to undocumented workers and families.
One California: The Governor’s proposed budget maintains $75 million to the California Department of Social Services for qualified immigration services to immigrants—including deportation defense, naturalization, and counsel for unaccompanied minors—and other immigration-related legal services. This critical investment includes continuing funding for legal services to students, faculty and staff at the California Community Colleges (CCCs), California State University campuses (CSUs) and the University of California system (UCs).
The budget proposes $5 million one-time General Fund dollars for the Rapid Response Program to support entities that provide critical assistance and services to immigrants during emerging situations that require state funds to bridge the gap when federal funding is not available.
Learn more about the Health4All campaign at www.caimmigrant.org to learn about how
Additional Details of the Governor’s Proposed Budget: