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California leaders announce budget agreement

June 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders have reached an agreement on a new state budget. While there's some good news for schools, the cuts in social welfare programs will be felt statewide.

Having to close a deficit that's nearly $16 billion, the budget compromise drastically changes the California's safety net, which is designed to help people during hard time.

Governor Jerry Brown wanted deeper cuts to programs that help the poor. Democratic leaders wanted to lessen the blow.

In the end, the budget compromise includes:

  • What the governor wanted: limiting welfare to two years instead of four to new recipients, but counties can extend it in some cases.
  • Democrats were able to save some subsidized childcare slots with only 10,000 being cut.
  • The Healthy Families insurance program will be eliminated and nearly a million kids will get coverage through Medi-Cal instead.

"These are sober decisions. We do the very best we can to balance and minimize impact and harm," said state Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

Jonetta Hall is about to lose her welfare, reaching her four-year limit next month. She thinks the new two-year limit to find a job is not enough in this economy.

"There are some mothers out there that are trying. We are trying to get work. It's just not happening," said Hall, a CalWorks recipient.

Parents submitted thousands of signatures to the governor Friday urging him to think twice. While they're grateful most subsidized childcare slots were saved, the compromise budget will still change some women's lives.

"It's hard to celebrate it when there still will be moms who will lose their access to childcare," said Mary Ignatius, executive director of Parent Voices. "And that will cause them to lose their jobs."

The biggest surprise to come out of negotiations was to children's healthcare. Critics say kids on Medi-Cal now can hardly access care. How is the over-burdened system going to handle the influx of kids from Healthy Families?

"Already it can take weeks, even a month or more for children and families to be able to get in to see their doctors and some are having a difficult time finding a provider at all," said Serena Kirk, Children's Defense Fund.

There are some winners in this compromise budget. Counties will get to keep $250 million, public schools won't be cut and charter schools will actually see an increase in funding.


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