Thursday, October 14, 2010

Governor’s Unconscionable Budget Vetoes Harm Low-Income Children

Our failed governor is well-known for commuting to the Capitol from his gated mansion in Santa Monica via private jet. Clearly, given his wealth and life-style, he is completely out of touch with the need for child care for ordinary working Californians, as well as the need for protection for vulnerable abused or diabled children.

When signing this year’s belated budget, the governor vetoed nearly $1 billion. True to form, he focused the pain on vulnerable women and children. And, again true to form, he immediately fled the scene of the crime, jetting off to London and other places so he wouldn’t have to face an angry and irate citizenry and Legislature.

The governor’s list of unconscionable budget vetoes includes:

$80 million from Child Welfare Services. This cut means at least 700 social workers will be lost. That will leave 143,000 reports of child abuse or neglect uninvestigated and prevent the reunification of thousands of foster youth with their families. It also means California will lose millions in matching federal funds, bringing the total loss to this program to $133.5 million.
$132 million from mental health services for students. Thousands of children with disabilities and mental health needs will be denied help, including children with autism spectrum disorders, children with other developmental disabilities, and mental health needs. The governor is dumping the responsibility to provide care onto the schools.
$256 million from child care. This absurd, costly and mean-spirited cut eliminates child care for low-income parents who have left welfare and entered the workforce. Without subsidized childcare, these workers will have to stop working so they can look after their children, thus moving them back onto welfare. This cut will end up costing the state even more because 60,000 families - including 81,000 children – will go back to receiving monthly assistance grants under CalWORKS.

Last year the governor’s vetoes included funding for the Black Infant Health program, jeopardizing the lives and well-being of hundreds of California babies. Thank goodness this is his last budget—we really wouldn’t want to see how much lower he could go.

Speaker Perez and President Pro Tempore Steinberg have both committed to restoring these funds as soon as we have a new governor. As incoming Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, I join them in this commitment.