Governor’s Budget Hurts the Most Vulnerable, Say County Officials

Alameda County officials are concerned that Governor Brown’s latest budget proposal –containing deep cuts to welfare, health care, childcare and in-home care programs – will disproportionately impact the community’s most  vulnerable residents.
 While crediting the Governor with offering a balanced approach of voter-approved tax increases and program cuts to close the State’s $9.2 billion shortfall through FY 2012-13, Alameda County Administrator Susan S. Muranishi said the County has faced deficits totaling more than $465 million over the past three years – shortfalls resulting in part from State cuts to local government funding.
“Years of challenges to the State’s financial health have meant services critical to our most vulnerable populations have been pared to the bone,’’ Muranishi said.  “It is therefore quite disheartening to learn that 2012 brings yet another round of bad news for people suffering most during these tough economic times, including families and children.’’
• Brown’s budget plan calls for $4.2 billion in spending cuts this year, with an additional round of “trigger” cuts should his $6.9 billion tax initiative fail at the ballot box in November.  Cuts proposed in the Governor’s plan include human services reductions that would impact thousands of low-income Alameda County residents.  These include:Deep cuts to the CalWORKs welfare-to-work program that would strip benefits from people who cannot find adequate work after two years, rather than four, and a 20 percent reduction in monthly benefits paid to families with children
• A reduction of almost 40 percent to child care subsidies for low-income families.
• Cuts to the State’s In-Home Support Services, including elimination of funding for disabled, frail and elderly recipients living with other people, along with a 20 percent across-the-board reduction enacted last year that has been blocked by the courts.
• Reductions totaling $842 million in the Medi-Cal program that would be obtained by moving all recipients into managed care.
• Eliminating the Healthy Families program that provides health insurance to children in low-income families.  These children would be moved to the more restrictive Medi-Cal program.
The budget proposal also calls for eventually eliminating  California’s youth prison system, beginning in January 2013 when the State would stop taking new wards into its custody.  Counties would begin taking responsibility for these higher-risk juvenile offenders.
 “It is clear that the difficult economy has placed all levels of government in a difficult bind, eroding public resources at a time when there is an increased need for vital services,’’ said Keith Carson, Vice President of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.