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Report: Calif. women hit hard by budget cuts

February 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
There's more fallout from the recession and state budget crisis. According to a new report, women in California, especially single mothers, are being hit especially hard in the economic downturn.

Only six in 10 single moms in California were working in 2010. According to a new report called "Falling Behind," that's the smallest proportion since 1996.

The report reveals men are finding jobs at a faster rate than women, giving a new name to the economic recovery.

"Now, we've moved into what some of the pundits are calling the 'he-covery,' where men are getting jobs back, but we've seen women's employment stall," said Jean Ross of the California Budget Project.

The report goes on to say that continued deep budget cuts to the safety net leave women in an even worse position. Job training and cash grants have been slashed, making it harder to gain new skills while raising kids.

After couch surfing with friends and family for eight years, Tasha Guzman finally has subsidized housing. The mother of two doesn't need a report to tell her how tough the recession and budget cuts have been.

"They could tax the rich people and leave us poor people alone because we're just getting poorer, and it's not fair to us," Guzman said.

It could get worse, as Gov. Jerry Brown proposes even deeper cuts to programs like welfare and subsidized childcare, parts of the budget that can be legally reduced.

The report points out the state expects women to get off welfare faster when there are no jobs.

"Obviously, that's the only thing to cut. If there were more bad programs or lower-valued programs, we'd cut those. We can't spend what we don't have," Brown said during a news conference on Jan. 5.

Daniela Scally is playing by all the rules, having moved off welfare and working. But with community college tuition rising and her subsidized childcare on the chopping block, the mother of three fears the worst - being homeless.

"I can't imagine the ... look my kids in the face and tell them, 'I'm sorry but you don't have your bed anymore, and you don't have your house anymore,'" she said.

The Women's Foundation of California, which funded the report, thinks it's important to get more female lawmakers into public office to help make budget decisions, fewer than one-quarter of the Legislature could be women after November's election.