Late last month, Governor Jerry Brown signed California’s 2018-19 budget, representing months of discussion, community advocacy, and a final deal negotiated with the state legislature. In the final year of his term, Governor Brown’s long-standing emphasis on “fiscal restraint” and concerns over potential economic downturns strongly shaped the final budget agreement.
The final budget made new investments in rebuilding anti-poverty programs and fighting homelessness, as well as a continued commitment to fighting deportations through legal representation in immigration court and the provision of qualified immigration services. These investments, including a new reserve fund for Medi-Cal and CalWORKs are important steps towards California providing critical assistance that helps residents be healthy and thrive.
However, the final budget missed the mark on upholding inclusion and challenging systematic barriers to health, family stability, and economic support. From health care to a slew of economic support programs, including the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) and food assistance, our government continues to exclude many working families from accessing vital support, despite their fundamental role in California’s civic, cultural, and economic life.
CIPC remains committed to removing these barriers and ensuring our state budget reflects investments in all Californians, regardless of where they were born. Immigrants have helped shape the cultural diversity and economic growth of our state and we will not rest until the budget accurately reflects the critical and diverse needs of our state. California must continue to build on recent progress that uplifts our values of equity and social and economic justice.
Please find updates below to the analysis CIPC released in early January. Included also are highlights and outcomes of priority discussions and proposals in the 2018-19 budget.
Have questions? For more information, please contact CIPC’s Government Affairs Director, Gina Da Silva, at email@example.com
Economic & Social Inclusion: Adult Education, Higher Education & Workforce Development
Adult Education Program:
The final budget funds the Adult Education Program at $527 million. Formerly titled the Adult Education Block Grant (AEBG), this program is an important source of state funding to programs and services — such as English language courses, GED attainment, and vocational skills — that prepare adults for the workforce. The program also supports integration and inclusion outcomes for immigrants seeking adult education services that enhance their engagement in community and civic life.
A proposal from adult education stakeholders, the California Council for Adult Education and the California Adult Education Administrators Association, provided a two-prong approach to advancing how AEBG funding reaches immigrant communities. The proposal aimed to 1) establish performance-based funding that incentivizes the needs of communities with multiple barriers including limited English proficiency, poverty, and lack of high school completion, and 2) include “immigrant integration” as a reported outcome for state funding. The incentive funding was not included in the final budget. The immigrant integration metrics proposal has shifted to legislation though AB 2098 (McCarty/Thurmond).
Access to Higher Education - California Online Community College:
The final budget includes Governor Brown’s proposed online California community college. This effort aims to provide more educational opportunities for working Californians who have extremely limited or no access to educational and training programs — affecting an estimated 2.5 million Californians, between the ages of 25 and 34, who may have a high school diploma or some college work but no degree. Nearly half of this population live in Spanish-speaking households and are women.
The Community College Chancellor's Office has announced initial career pathways will be information technology support and medical coding. Community-based organizations will be included in the development of this effort to promote the system in underrepresented communities. For more information on upcoming stakeholder conversations, please click here.
Funding the Breaking Barriers to Employment Act:
In 2017, Governor Brown signed the Breaking Barriers to Employment Act (AB 1111, E. Garcia) to establish a grant program to improve upward economic mobility for targeted populations, including immigrants, through employment services and training. The grant applications would require a partnership between a local workforce board(s) and community based organization(s). The final budget includes a $15 million investment to implement the grant program for all targeted populations with the exception of re-entry populations due to separate funding for the Prison to Employment Initiative.
The final budget includes a one-time $5 million funding to support career pathways for refugees. Funding must be distributed to community college districts participating in a Strong Workforce regional consortium that serves at least 40% of all refugee students in the state and partners with nonprofit organizations to provide case management services.
CIPC’s resource, Advancing Economic Opportunity for CA's Immigrant & Refugee Workforce, is for organizations interested in public investments to advance economic inclusion for immigrant and refugee communities.
California’s Safety Net: Health & Human Services
Justice in the Safety Net - Removing Immigrant Exclusions:
This year CIPC introduced Justice in the Safety Net: Removing Immigrant Exclusions, a platform to champion bold and inclusive health policies that break past xenophobic federal policies. Our current system excludes our most vulnerable communities from critical assistance to help put food on the table, pay rent, and provide for other life necessities.
This growing platform includes opportunities for California to fight poverty and advance positive health and social outcomes for our residents. See below for the latest budget updates on this year's platform priorities and other investments in California's safety net:
- California’s uninsured rate is at a historic low of 6.8% thanks to California's robust implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which brought health coverage to an additional 7 million Californians. Additionally, in 2015, California invested in full-scope Medi-Cal for all children, regardless of where they were born. Yet, millions of low-income California adults cannot access comprehensive care due to their undocumented status. California can remove this discriminatory exclusion without federal permission.
- This budget cycle, the Health4All Coalition, led by CIPC and Health Access, advanced the Health4All Adults budget proposal, alongside legislation SB 974 (Lara) and AB 2965 (Arambula), to remove immigrant exclusions to full-scope Medi-Cal for income-eligible undocumented adult Californians. The Senate prioritized Health4All Elders (for undocumented adults 65 years and older) in their budget plan. The Assembly prioritized a $1 billion health care package including an investment in Health4All Young Adults (ages 19 through 25).
- Although the Legislature prioritized Health4All, the final budget negotiated with Governor Brown did not include investments in Health4All. The legacy of California’s next leaders must include bold action to create a health care system that works for all Californians, regardless of where they are born. Instead of just talking about universal coverage, our decision-makers should invest in taking inclusive steps forward. The future of California depends on ensuring that we remove unjust barriers to health care for all who call California home. Read CIPC’s statement on the budget deal.
- In 2015, California established the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), which provides low-income individuals a modest financial credit. Unfortunately, some working families in California face serious economic challenges yet are excluded from accessing the CalEITC due to federal rules regarding immigration status.
- CIPC, in collaboration with the CalEITC Advocacy Coalition advanced efforts to strengthen the CalEITC. Our proposal aimed at removing the eligibility barrier for low-income young workers, working seniors and immigrant Californians with Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and immigrants who have an assigned Social Security Number (SSN) but lose their employment authorization. This may include DACA or TPS grantees. The proposal also included additional funding to ensure more low-income Californians are accessing the tax credit and utilizing free qualified tax services to file. An estimated 100,000 immigrant families may benefit in the first year if these immigrant exclusions were removed. The Assembly included immigrant tax filers in their budget plan, however the final budget deal did not include immigrant tax filers.
- The final budget expanded the CalEITC to young and senior workers and provided additional funding for outreach. CIPC is committed to continuing the conversation to ensure all otherwise eligible tax filing Californians, regardless of their immigration status, are able to access the CalEITC. Excluding vulnerable Californians from critical assistance pushes struggling communities closer to financial ruin, widening health and economic disparities that undercut our values and hurt our state as a whole.
- Under current law, all undocumented and many “lawfully present” immigrants are explicitly excluded from nutrition assistance through CalFresh. CalFresh is one of the most important tools to reduce poverty and improve health. When low-income Californians regardless of immigration status, have access to nutrition assistance, we create a standard for food access that allows families and communities to lead better, healthier lives and thrive. CIPC and the California Food Policy Advocates are moving a campaign to strengthen food assistance and ensure no Californian goes hungry because of immigration status.
- The groundwork for these efforts was finalized in the 2018-19 state budget and a Food for All Stakeholder Workgroup will be established by the Department of Social Services to strengthen California’s food assistance safety net.
Final investments in health care were limited in the 2018-19 budget. After months of discussion regarding a single-payer system, universal coverage, and protecting against federal sabotage, investments in health care were limited to the development of a database to “collect and analyze health care cost data” and a Council on Health Care Delivery Systems. The objective of the Council is to provide the state with a plan to achieve universal health coverage, control health care costs, ensure all Californians have access to affordable coverage, address health care workforce shortages, and increase access to culturally and linguistically-appropriate health care. In addition to Health4All efforts, CIPC is also part of Care4All California, a coalition committed to ensuring that California has 100% health coverage, as well as improving quality, affordability, and equity in our health system through budget proposals and legislation.
Mental Health Services for Immigrants & Refugees:
The budget includes $670,000 ongoing to include immigrant and refugee representation in stakeholder contracts with the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. This representation is critical to ensure the mental health needs of immigrants and refugees who call California home are included in discussions regarding California's mental health system. Proposal led by CIPC and CPEHN.
The final budget includes investments to rebuild and strengthen human services in California’s safety net, including funding to reduce homelessness and deep poverty.
Ending SSI Cash-Out:
The final budget ends a long-standing harmful policy that penalized SSI/SSP recipients, low-income aged, blind, and people with disability, by banning them from accessing food assistance through CalFresh. $230 million was set aside in the 2018-19 budget to end this policy, including an intent by the Legislature to continue funding the benefit moving forward.
California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs):
CalWORKs — the state’s version of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — provides cash assistance to low-income children and services to their parents to find employment. There are some limitations in the program based on immigration status. The final budget includes:
- Home Visiting Program: $26.7 million for a CalWORKs Home Visiting program for pregnant or first-time parents with children under 24 months old. The intent of the program is to support the self-sufficiency of young families by “improving family engagement practices, supporting healthy development of young children living in poverty, and preparing parents for employment." Additional one-time TANF funds are being held to cover the costs of the pilot through 2021.
- Grant Increases: This year, state partners moved budget efforts and SB 982 (Mitchell) to end childhood poverty by setting a floor grant at 50% of the federal poverty line. The final budget includes a compromise that will begin increasing the grant levels by April 1, 2019, so they are at 45% of the federal poverty level (FPL). This agreement funds the increase at $90.1 million in 2018-19 and $359.9 million ongoing. There is legislative intent to reach 50% FPL, however, this will require additional funding.
Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI):
CAPI is a state-funded program that provides cash assistance to low-income eligible aged, blind, and immigrants with disability, who are not eligible for Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payment (SSI/SSP) due to their immigration status. This year, advocates moved budget efforts and AB 3200 (Kalra, Reyes, & Thurmond) to reinstate the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) beginning January 1, 2019 in order to ensure that maximum combine SSI/SSP grants are at 100% of the Federal Poverty Level. The final budget does not fund a COLA but sets legislative intent to begin funding a COLA for SSI/SSP grants in the coming years.
Safety Net Reserve:
The final budget deal set aside $200 million for a new reserve to support CalWORKs and Medi-Cal. The one-time funding demonstrates that California can and must continue to prioritize funding to rebuild and protect critical assistance that helps Californians thrive.
Immigration Assistance and Inclusion
The final budget includes additional funding from the Governor’s proposed funding levels for a total of $90.3 million to support outreach efforts for the 2020 Census. This includes reporting requirements for the California Complete Count Census. Additional advocacy will be critical to ensure that outreach planning incorporates a language access plan and critical partnerships with community based organizations.
“One California” Immigration Services Funding:
The program is administered by the California Department of Social Services and supports qualified immigration assistance through education, outreach, legal representation, and legal services for low-income immigrant Californians. This program enjoyed a commitment from last year’s budget of $45 million and received an additional one-time investment to support urgent needs in 2019, including federal attacks on immigrant families and due process:
- $10 million to support former or current recipients of TPS and minors facing removal proceedings in immigration court
- $7 million to provide One CA assistance to faculties, students and staff at CSUs
- $10 million to provide One CA assistance to students at community colleges
University of California Immigrant Legal Services Center:
The final budget includes $4 million in one-time funding to provide legal services for undocumented and immigrant students, faculty, and staff at UCs. The funding will be directly provided to the UC.
Undocumented Unaccompanied Minors (UUM) Program:
The budget continues a $3 million investment to fund legal counsel for unaccompanied children fleeing violence in their home countries.
Domestic Work Rights Implementation Act:
The CA Domestic Workers Coalition advanced the Domestic Work Rights Implementation Act, through a budget proposal and AB 2314 (Ting), to establish a program within the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement to promote the implementation of labor standards for the domestic work industry. The final budget deal includes requirements for the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) to create a section on its website with resources for domestic workers and employers.
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Have Questions? For more information please contact CIPC’s Government Affairs Director, Gina Da Silva, at firstname.lastname@example.org