Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stage 3 Funding Restoration Bill Introduced

Taking action to save jobs for tens of thousands of working parents and small business child care providers, Assemblyman John Pérez yesterday introduced a bill to restore child care funding for working parents that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently vetoed. The action comes, said the Speaker's press release, after the Speaker worked to provide bridge funding for the program by committing $6 million generated from cuts in the Assembly's operating budget and working with California's state and local First 5 Commissions to arrange for more than $40 million in bridge funding for the child care services.
"We partnered with First Five Commissions all throughout the state to keep these parents and childcare providers working. That was the first step," Pérez said. "Today, I am taking the second step by introducing a bill that will fully restore this program and keep the parents and child care providers working. We will not stand idly by while others force parents back onto the welfare rolls and drive providers to the unemployment line. Failing to act will cost taxpayers far more than the cost of providing childcare."

AB 1 (Perez) would be funded by the transfer of $115,534,000 from various unobligated balances. AB 1 (Perez) language below:

http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_0001-0050/ab_1_bill_20101206_introduced.pdf

GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER RELEASES EMERGENCY SESSION BUDGET PROPOSAL

Here are some lowlights:

Health and Human Services CalWORKs

• A decrease of $110.1 million in 2010 11 and $646.3 million in 2011 12 from reducing CalWORKs grants by 15.7 percent and eliminating the Recent Noncitizen Entrants program, effective April 1, 2011.

• A decrease of $49.4 million in 2011 12 from reducing the level at which the state reimburses CalWORKs child care providers, effective March 1, 2011.

• A decrease of $1.4 billion from eliminating the CalWORKs program effective July 1, 2011. This General Fund savings is in addition to the savings resulting from the above CalWORKs reduction proposals, and net of General Fund to be provided to the various programs and departments outside of CalWORKs that currently receive federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant funds.



Proposition 98 Subsidized Child Care Reductions

• A decrease of 200.2 million in current year to eliminate all remaining General Fund support of subsidized child care programs, except for the State Preschool Program and CalWORKs Stage 2, effective April 1, 2011.

• Additionally, cost containment reforms are proposed for all child care programs effective March 1, 2011, that include reductions to current income eligibility limits (from 75 percent of the State Median Income to 60 percent) and reductions to voucher based provider reimbursement limits (from the 85th to the 75th percentile of the 2005 regional market rate survey data, and from 80 percent of the respective licensed limits to 70 percent for license exempt providers). While remaining Proposition 98 funding is eliminated, federal funding remains as budgeted for the neediest families under a less generous subsidy program going forward. These reductions are estimated to result in $1.1 billion in annual savings beginning in 2011 12, including elimination of CalWORKs Stage 2 child care effective July 1, 2011, to conform to the elimination of the CalWORKs program as discussed in the Health and Human Services section.

• Legislation is proposed to establish greater incentives for child care providers and administrative agents, including Alternative Payment agencies, to reduce administrative error rates, to establish sanctions for those agencies that do not meet federal error rate guidelines, and to deter fraud in child care programs by recipients and providers. This proposal will help reduce wasteful spending and, consequently, result in more needy families receiving services with remaining funding in the future.



Food and Other Nutrition Programs

• A decrease of $301 million in 2010 11 and $602 million in 2011 12 to the Food Stamp and Child Welfare Services programs from shifting county mental health realignment funding to county social services programs. This adjustment eliminates the majority of funding for county mental health services and retains only the amount necessary to fund mandated mental health services.

• A decrease of $15 million in 2010 11 and $69.4 million in 2011 12 from eliminating the California Food Assistance Program effective April 1, 2011.

• A decrease of $18.1 million in 2010 11 and $93.1 million in 2011 12 from eliminating all Drug Medi Cal programs with the exception of the Perinatal; Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment; and Minor Consent Programs. This elimination of services is assumed to be effective April 1, 2011.



Other Health and Human Services

Health and Human Services

Healthy Families

• A decrease of $2.3 million in 2010 11 and $11.3 million in 2011 12 by eliminating vision coverage. This proposal would take effect April 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• A decrease of $6.2 million in 2010 11 and $25 million in 2011 12 by increasing monthly premiums in families with incomes from 150 to 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Premiums would increase for the income group from 150 to 200 percent of the FPL by $14 per child (from $16 to $30) and a family maximum for three or more children by $42 (from $48 to $90). Premiums would go up for the income group from 200 to 250 percent of the FPL by $18 per child (from $24 to $42) and a family maximum for three or more children by $54 (from $72 to $126). No increase would result for families with incomes under 150 percent of the FPL. This proposal is consistent with what other states have done and would take effect April 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• A decrease of $6.8 million in 2011 12 due to increasing co payments for emergency room visits from $15 to $50 ($5.3 million) and adding co payments on hospital inpatient services of $100 per day with a $200 maximum ($1.5 million) consistent with cost containment proposals in Medi Cal. This proposal would take effect August 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• Medi Cal



The Special Session proposes $3.2 million in 2010 11 and $980.3 million in 2011 12 in savings from various Medi Cal Cost Containment proposals. The following specific savings proposals would contain costs in the Medi Cal program (proposed policies require a state plan amendment or federal waiver):

• Limit services and establish utilization controls for $2.9 million in 2010 11 and $281.7 million in 2011 12.

• Eliminate certain over the counter drugs (such as cough and cold medicine) and nutritional supplements ($2.9 million in 2010 11 and $16.8 million in 2011 12). This proposal would take effect April 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• Establish a maximum annual benefit dollar cap on hearing aids at $1,510, durable medical equipment at $1,604, incontinence supplies at $1,659, urological supplies at $6,435, and wound care supplies at $391 ($12.4 million in 2011 12). This proposal would take effect July 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• Limit prescriptions (except life saving drugs) to six per month ($13.6 million in 2011 12). This proposal would take effect July 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• Limit the number of physician or clinic visits to 10 per year ($238.9 million in 2011 12). The proposed limits are consistent with the aggregate utilization of these services at the 90th percentile of Medi Cal enrollees. This proposal would take effect June 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• (2) Increase cost sharing for $0.3 million in 2010 11 and $698.6 million in 2011 12.

• $5 co payments on physician/clinic/dental/and pharmacy ($3 for the relatively lower cost preferred drugs and $5 for others) visits ($0.3 million in 2010 11 and $360 million in 2011 12). This proposal would take effect July 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• $50 co payment on emergency room visits ($142.1 million in 2011 12). This proposal would take effect July 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• $100 per day co payment and $200 maximum for hospital stays ($196.5 million in 2011 12). This proposal would take effect April 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• A decrease of $14.8 million in 2010 11 and $120.1 million in 2011 12 by eliminating Full Scope Medi Cal for Certain Immigrants. This proposal includes that elimination of full scope Medi Cal for adult Newly Qualified Immigrants (legal immigrants who have been residing in the United States less than five years), immigrants Permanently Residing Under the Color of Law, and Amnesty Immigrants who are not defined as eligible Qualified Immigrants under federal law. Pregnant women would be excluded from this policy. This proposal would take effect June 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• A decrease of $20.5 million in 2010 11 and $188.9 in 2011 12 by eliminating Optional Adult Day Health Care Benefits. This proposal would take effect June 1, 2011, after appropriate provider and beneficiary notification.

• A decrease of $2.3 million in 2010 11 and $16.1 million in 2011 12 by rolling back the rate increase for Family Planning Services. This proposal would rescind substantial discretionary rate increase authorized by Chapter 636, Statutes of 2007, for family planning services. This proposal would take effect May 1, 2011, after appropriate provider notification.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Attention: All CalWORKs Stage 3 and Alternative Payment Program Executive Directors and Program Administrators


Child Development Division
Subject: Parent Voices vs. Jack O’Connell, CDE and John Wagner, CDSS
Number: 10-15
Authority: Alameda County Superior Court – Order Granting Relief by Judge Wynne Carvill – Case No. RG10-544021
Date: November 2010
Expires: June 30, 2011






Purpose
The purpose of this Management Bulletin is to rescind Management Bulletin 10-10 and provide instruction to contractors on implementation of the November 5, 2010, decision issued by Judge Wynne Carvill of the Alameda County Superior Court, in the Parent Voices Oakland, et al. vs. Jack O’Connell, et al. Pursuant to that decision, the California Department of Education (CDE) was informed that the Management Bulletin (MB) implementing the Governor’s veto was deficient. The Court required the Department to instruct contractors regarding rescinding prior Notices of Action (NOAs) and the issuance of new NOAs. At this time, the Department is instructing contractors to rescind all previous NOAs terminating Stage 3 child care services, until such time as a management bulletin can be issued containing new directions.
Background
On October 8, 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed $256 million from CalWORKs Stage 3 child care, which eliminated the program’s services effective November 1, 2010. The CDE implemented the veto through MB 10-10, issued on October 12, 2010, which included instructions on issuance of a NOA and requested contractors work with families identifying other child care alternatives. 
On October 28, 2010, a coalition of public interest law groups petitioned the Alameda County Superior Court for an injunction to keep the funds in place and to require the CDE to halt the implementation of the Governor’s veto. On October 29, 2010, the CDE was informed that Judge Wynne Carvill issued an Order Granting Interim Relief until November 5, 2010, to allow the Court to hear evidence in this case on November 5, 2010, and make a final ruling on the petition for injunctive relief.
On November 5, 2010, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne Carvill directed the CDE to rescind previously issued NOAs and to provide service to CalWORKs Stage 3 eligible families pending the transmission of another NOA terminating services.
Directions
Under the Parent Voices Oakland, et al. vs. Jack O’Connell, et al. decision, the CDE is required to rescind MB 10-10 and instruct contractors to rescind the NOAs they sent to CalWORKs Stage 3 families and families transferring to Stage 3 informing them that as of November 1, 2010, their child care services would be terminated.
Effective immediately, MB 10-10 is hereby rescinded and CalWORKs Stage 3 contractors should inform their parents by any means available, including, but not limited to phone, fax, and e-mail, that child care services will continue until further notice. There is no need to issue a new NOA rescinding the NOA issued pursuant to MB 10-10 because that management bulletin is rescinded.
Effective immediately, families transferring to CalWORKs Stage 3 programs from Stage 1 or Stage 2 should be informed by any means available, including but not limited to phone, fax, and e-mail, that they will be enrolled in and receive services in Stage 3 until further notice. There is no need to issue a new NOA rescinding the NOA issued pursuant to MB 10-10 because that management bulletin is rescinded.
Information to Providers
When notifying the family, the Child Development Division (CDD) strongly encourages contractors to update child care providers serving these families regarding the status of their eligibility for services.
Policy
The CDE is aware that implementation of the court’s order will impose additional administrative costs on contractors. Because the instructions in this MB are required by an order of the court, administrative costs incurred to implement this MB are reimbursable costs within the definition of Section 18304 of the California Code of Regulations, Title 5. If these costs exceed the cap on your administration and support claim, the CDD is committed to seeking funding to support these costs.

Questions regarding the information in this Management Bulletin or the process by which families receiving CalWORKs child care must be terminated should be addressed to your CDD Field Services Consultant or by phone at 916-322-6233.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rally against cuts to Stage 3 funding for child care


For more information, please contact Fred Munoz at 323.421.2602 or fmunoz@crystalstairs.org

Para mas informacion, pongase en contacto con Fred Munoz al 323.421.2602 o fmunoz@crystalstairs.org

Friday, October 8, 2010

California Budget Deal Done -- Finally

On the 100th day of the fiscal year, California lawmakers approved the tardiest budget in state history this morning after a marathon session at the Capitol.
The $87.5 billion spending plan relies on rosy assumptions about revenues from taxpayers and the federal government, as well as reductions to state worker pay, prisons, and social services. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger expects to sign it as soon as today, enacting the final budget of his gubernatorial career.

The last vote was cast in the Senate at 8:25 a.m. The package of spending bills had been held up in the upper house for hours as Democratic leaders tried to overcome the loss of three of their members - two to illness and one to a court date in Los Angeles.

State leaders faced a $19 billion deficit that the result of faulty solutions in last year's budget, as well as a prolonged economic downturn and a permanent imbalance between how much California spends and how much it receives in revenues.

Republicans and Democrats disagreed for months over how much spending to cut and whether to raise taxes. But their debate in the final days ultimately seemed to hinge on whether Democrats and labor unions would agree to cut pensions for future state workers, which Schwarzenegger demanded all year.

In the end, Democrats helped broker a deal between Schwarzenegger and the largest state worker union, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, to establish a lower tier of pension benefits for workers hired starting in mid-November.

By Kevin Yamamura and Torey Van Oot

kyamamura@sacbee.com
Published: Friday, Oct. 8, 2010 - 8:57 am

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Budget Update

The State Level

The Legislature and the Governor broke another record this year. This year’s budget impasse is the longest in history. As it turns out, the second week of October and a budget deal seems imminent.

The Budget Conference Committee is meeting today to finalize the last negotiations put forth by the Big 5. It is assumed that an announcement will be made later today or tomorrow about a final deal and that the Governor will sign the bill by week’s end.

No one seems to be excited about this year’s budget deal, and in fact, additional reductions were offered in an effort to close the $19 Billion budget deficit. These reductions, include a $48 million reduction to child care (although we have yet to see what those reductions are).

The Governor did sign and veto child care legislation. Below is a summary of those bills:

A summary of the bills that resulted in action by the Governor:

Approved by Governor with Chapter Number:

AB 222 (Adams) (Chapter 431) – As of January 1, 2011, would require Trustline registry of persons 18 years and older providing care or supervision in an ancillary child care center (i.e. athletic club, business for children of clients or customers). Fees consistent with the cost of processing the applications and maintaining the Trustline registry would be imposed.

AB 434 (Block) (Chapter 229) – Would allow the After School Education and Safety (ASES) Program site supervisor to be included under the direct service costs as long s 85 percent of their time is spent at the program site. Approved by the Governor on September 23, 2010.

AB 2084 (Brownley) (Chapter 593) – Would require licensed child care facilities to follow guidelines relating to serving beverages. When milk is served to children two years of age and older, is to be one percent or nonfat, would limit juice servings, and prohibit serving beverages with sweetener additives. Certain exemptions with physician notice would apply and amendments would not apply to beverages provided by a parent or legal guardian for their child.

AB 2178 (Torlackson) (Chapter 462) – Would allow local education agencies (LEAs) to share pupil data with their contracted ASES Programs and 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CLCs). Data in the aggregate to include information on school attendance, standardized test scores, high school exit exam scores, English language development test placement or reclassification score, and California Health Survey results.

SB 798 (DeSaulnier) (Chapter 479) – With respect to 21st Century CLCs, would require the reallocation of excess funds in a fiscal year as follows: 35 percent to centers serving high school students; 50 percent to centers serving elementary and middle school students; and 15 percent to summer programs serving elementary and middle school students. Priority would go to programs with expiring grants if the programs have satisfactorily met their projected student outcomes.


SB 1116 (Huff) (Chapter 286) – Would define heritage schools that offer foreign language education for children from 4 years, 9 months to 18 years old for purposes of requiring fingerprinting and background checks on staff, attendance at health and safety training of director, and notifying parents if school does not hold a child care license. Approved by the Governor on September 23, 2010.

SB 1381 (Simitian) (Chapter 705) – Will change the required birthday for kindergarten and 1st grade entry to November 1 for the 2012-13 school year, October 1 for the 2013-14 school year and September 1 for the 2014-15 school year and thereafter. Children whose admission to a traditional kindergarten would be delayed would be admitted to a transitional kindergarten program maintained by the school district. Children enrolled in the transitional kindergarten program will be computed in the average daily attendance of the school district. The district will be limited to counting the child’s attendance for up to two years in kindergarten or two years of transitional kindergarten combined.

SCR 47 (DeSaulnier) (Chapter 78) – States legislative intent to increase funding for State-contracted child care and development centers and preschool programs eligible for the Standard Reimbursement Rate (SRR) as the resources become available to pay adequate staff salaries and benefits, support program quality, and keep programs open to serve low-income children and their families. Filed by Secretary of State on August 1, 2010.

Vetoed by the Governor with his veto message:
 
AB 1876 (Torlackson) – Would have allowed ASES Programs to operate on weekends, paid from the program’s maximum grant or supplemental grant. The Governor’s veto message stated, in part, “The need is so great for these valuable after school programs that there is still not enough funding to meet the long waiting list of schools and students seeking to have an after school program. As a result, with so many program applications pending on the waiting list to start offering services during the regular school week, I do not believe it is prudent to expand to weekend hours at this time. For these reasons, I am unable to sign this bill.”


AB 2478 (Mendoza) – Any person entering school property or its adjacent who is disruptive with the intent to threaten the immediate public safety of any student arriving, attending or leaving any preschool, kindergarten or grades 1 to 8 will be guilty of a public offense. The Governor’s veto message stated, ““I believe it is important to ensure the physical safety of all students, but the protection provisions of this bill do not include students in grades 9 through 12. I am also concerned that the provisions of this bill would likely be ineffective, limited to situations where the person charged with interfering with the peaceful conduct of a school would have to have the specific intent to physically harm students rather than causing a disruption that causes physical harm. Since this bill is too narrowly drawn and otherwise duplicates existing law governing the crime of making criminal threats, I am unable to sign this measure.”

Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield Announces Budget to Be Signed Today!

First, the big news - the legislature is meeting to vote on a budget today, and Bob is optimistic it will pass. Although the proposed budget is not as responsible as the California Jobs Budget Bob put together earlier this year, it is not as bad as many had feared it would be.

The budget is more significant for what it doesn't do than what it does. While it has contains some tough cuts, it does not decimate school funding, it does not cut college and university funds, it does not eviscerate health and social service programs, and it does not cause the loss of 430,000 public and private sector jobs that would have happened if the governor's budget plan had prevailed.

There are no new taxes on families, it has a prudent reserve, and it includes proposed reforms of the budget process itself.

More information to follow!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

California state budget deal has holes, analysts say!

The California state budget accord to be voted on Friday relies on $5 billion in federal money, $10 billion in Wall Street loans, and some pretty big assumptions, say some political observers.


October 4, 2010 (Los Angeles, CA)-California officials are high-fiving themselves over the announcement that they have reached a compromise to close the state’s $19.1 billion budget deficit, ending a record-breaking impasse. The new “accord,” reached three months after the start of the fiscal year, doesn’t raise taxes as Democrats wished, but also doesn’t dismantle the state’s welfare system, as Republicans had proposed.

After a five-hour meeting Saturday between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic and Republican heads of the state Senate and Assembly, Senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg told the press, “We have a comprehensive agreement.” More details, he said, would be released Thursday at a hearing and a vote could come as early as Friday.

There is only one problem, say several analysts: nothing is signed yet.

“Don’t count your chickens, yet,” says Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies. “The budget still has a long way to go before it is finally enacted.”

"A lot can still happen to derail this,” adds Sherry Jeffe, a political scientist at The University of Southern California.

Details which have trickled into various press accounts include $7.5 billion in spending cuts and the suspension of a corporate tax break valued about $1.4 billion. Alicia Trost, a spokesperson for Mr. Steinberg, says that the so-called “gang of five” also agreed to erase another $1.4 billion by accepting an independent legislative analyst's estimate of incoming revenue, which was that much higher than Governor Schwarzenegger’s. There is also the assumption of $5 billion in federal funds, and $10 billion in loans from Wall Street.

But one unknown is how legislators will respond to the sale of 11 state office buildings, which the state would rent for the long term. Two of the buildings are at San Francisco’s Civic Center, which would bring in over $1 billion immediately, but would cost $30 million annually to rent.

More questions surround what kind of long-term credit the state can arrange, given its falling bond ratings.

The budget plan reportedly relies on bogus economic assumptions and unrealistic expectations about federal aid, says Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif. “They debated, deliberated, and delayed – and then ended up faking it anyway," he says. "Never have so many Californians waited for so long for so little.”

One of the biggest reasons why California set an all-time record for budget lateness this year, says Ms. Trost, was that for each of the two previous years, the state has had to close the largest state deficits in American history.

“Both sides have already compromised and cut to deep bone,” says Trost, “which made getting this far harder than ever.” Schwarzenegger has come under criticism for his decision to furlough state workers three days a month, essentially cutting their pay 14 percent.

The California Supreme Court on Monday upheld Schwarzenegger's order to furlough state workers, handing him a victory for his current budget plans. State employee unions have been challenging Schwarzenegger's order since he implemented the furloughs for more than 200,000 state workers in February of 2009. He later expanded it to three days a month, which has translated to a pay cut of roughly 14 percent for government employees.

Furloughs saved the state's general fund $1.5 billion during the previous two fiscal years and an additional $80 million a month in the fiscal year that began July 1, said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the governor's Department of Finance.

The record budget impasse should create new impetus for the passage of Prop. 25, experts say. The ballot initiative would change the legislative vote requirement necessary to pass the state budget and spending bills related to the budget from two-thirds to a simple majority. It also would provide that if the Legislature fails to pass a budget bill by June 15, all members of the Legislature will permanently forfeit any reimbursement for salary and expenses for every day until the day it passes one.

California is one of three states to require two-thirds of legislators to agree before a budget can be passed. Many analysts have said that is one of the keys to why the state seems so dysfunctional and ungovernable.

“A two-thirds requirement enables a smaller group to hold the larger one hostage and demand concessions,” says David Fiorenza, a professor of public sector economics at the Villanova School of Business in Villanova, Pa. “It becomes more of a political science question than a budget issue. If California voters don’t see now how this measure could help its budget impasses, it would baffle me.”

At the moment Prop. 25 has less than 50 percent voter approval, according to the latest Field Poll of California voters.

“The conventional wisdom is that budget stalemate strengthens the argument for the proposition, but just the opposite could be true,” argues Claremont McKenna's Mr. Pitney. “Voters may think, ‘it’s already too easy for those guys to play games.' This measure would make it even easier.”

Article by By Daniel B. Wood

Monday, October 4, 2010

New austerity budget in California

By Olivier Richards

October 4, 2010 - California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders said they had reached an agreement Friday evening to end the state’s budget stalemate by slashing social spending. A vote on the new budget will be held on Thursday.

California is currently entering into its fourth month without a budget, making this the longest stalemate in the state’s history. California currently faces a projected deficit of $19 billion, equivalent to 22 percent of the state’s $84.5 billion budget last year.

State lawmakers refused to provide any details of the agreement that was reached after hours of closed-door meetings in the governor’s office, stating that information on the deal would not come out until Wednesday. Their aim is to force through a quick vote to prevent any public discussion on what will no doubt be further devastating cuts in social programs.

The two main components of the budget, however, are clear: further cuts to social programs (on top of several years of record cuts) and an attack on pensions for state workers. Politicians of both parties agreed to reject any measures that increase taxes on the wealthy or corporations.

Anonymous sources report that the deal will involve $7.5 billion in cuts. Both Republicans and Democrats have agreed not to introduce any broad new taxes. The remainder of the budget deficit is said to consist mainly of accounting manipulations and rosy predictions of future economic growth and aid from the federal government. This means that further cuts in social programs will come with the next round of negotiations.

Republican lawmakers had been aiming to cut around $12 billion from the budget, including eliminating the state’s main welfare program and day care for 140,000 children in low-income families. As part of the agreement, Republicans also allowed a corporate tax break to be suspended for two years, but this was in exchange for a permanent tax break that will primarily benefit corporate giants like Comcast and Microsoft.

In enforcing this attack on California workers, state lawmakers are relying on the support of the trade unions. In particular, the budget deal assumes that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and other unions will get their members to accept rollbacks of public employee benefits that were granted 11 years ago.

The 90,500 member SEIU Local 1000 represents nine of the fifteen bargaining units that currently do not have a contract. Schwarzenegger and state lawmakers are counting on SEIU pushing through these pension cuts, with the other bargaining units following suit.

Schwarzenegger’s press secretary Aaron McLear said that the governor “came to an agreement on pension reform with the Legislature. [Schwarzenegger has] said since January that he won't sign a budget that doesn't include comprehensive pension reform. That remains the case."

The budget has been negotiated under increasing pressure from bond markets, with state officials warning of dire circumstances if a budget is not passed this week. The state controller, John Chiang, has said that without a budget he would have to start handing out IOUs again, for the third time since the Great Depression.

California is the largest issuer of bonds in the US municipal debt market. During last year’s budget standoff, IOUs were issued in order to maintain cash reserves to pay investors in the debt market. However, investors are beginning to become concerned about the bonds, and California may face yet another cut to its already low credit rating.

Since the state has not passed a budget before the end of the first fiscal quarter, US Bank can suspend the state’s CalCard and Voyager credit cards—used for buying supplies, routine purchases, and gasoline for the state’s fleet—for nonpayment.

More critically, without a state budget, the state cannot seek $10 billion in tax revenue anticipation notes, and then pursue the $7 billion in general obligation bonds. The latter are necessary to fund the construction of highways, schools, courthouses, and flood levees for this fall.

“You can look at the calendar and see that’s getting tight,” Joe Deanda, spokesman for Treasurer Bill Lockyer, said last week. “If nothing happens by next week, it’s really going to make it difficult for our office to access the market. We really risk shutting down all the infrastructure projects and the public works projects and all the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are associated with that.”

The budget stalemate has further exacerbated the funding crisis for education and other public services. The state owes community colleges $840 million, K-12 schools are scrambling for funds, and state employees continue to face furloughs.

Although Californians continue to face record levels of unemployment and social services are needed more than ever, the Republicans and Democrats of the state legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger speak with a single voice on the need to cut spending.

Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming November elections, the political establishment in California, and nationwide, is moving to the right. The trade unions are rallying behind the gubernatorial campaign of current Attorney General Jerry Brown, a Democrat. Brown has repeatedly insisted on his budget cutting credentials. In addition to promising to “do things that that labor doesn’t like,” Brown has asserted, “If you’re looking for frugality, I’m your man.”

Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate, has pledged that one of her first acts would be to lay off at least 20,000 state workers. As if to underscore the lack of difference between the two candidates, the headline of the Sacramento Bee the day after the first debate read, “What would they cut?”

Behind these state politicians stands the Obama administration, which has repeatedly rejected federal aid to the states, and in particular to California. After bailing out the banks with trillions of dollars, the universal call throughout the country, and indeed internationally, is for austerity. California is leading the way.

Health Reform Law Made Simple

Friday, October 1, 2010

State Schools Chief O’Connell Joins Educators to Urge End to Budget Impasse

Thousands of Families and Workers are Impacted by Lack of Funding for Child Care


September 30, 2010 (Los Angeles, CA) — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, child care providers, charter school operators, after-school programs, and public school educators today urged the state Legislature and the Governor to immediately pass a state budget that is now a record 92 days late. The budget impasse has resulted in the reduction or loss of early education and child care services for more than 28,000 children and their families, the reduction of hours or layoff of 1,141 child care workers, and the closure or reduction in services at 234 preschool centers or sites.

“Many vital programs and hard-working individuals are being affected by the standoff between the Legislature and the Governor,” said O’Connell. “But none touches the most vulnerable — our children — or creates more havoc with thousands of working parents and their employers than the closure of child care centers. They don’t deserve the anxiety, lost wages, lost educational opportunities, and upheaval caused by the failure to enact a budget. State leaders must do better because Californians need a responsible budget passed now, not later, that protects education.”

About 230,000 children are currently being served in 4,000 centers across the state. Also, about 120,000 children are currently receiving state-subsidized services from private providers, such as family child care homes.

“People up and down the state of California should be outraged by this historic budget impasse,” said Gisselle Acevedo, President and CEO of Para Los Niños that operates early childhood education centers, a charter elementary school, after-school programs, and supportive family services in greater Los Angeles. “Leaders in Sacramento should be ashamed of themselves for playing political football with vulnerable children and families. Real people are facing really tragic circumstances. We implore the Governor and the Legislature to do the right thing, right now, by passing a responsible budget immediately!”

O’Connell released preliminary results of a survey conducted last week by the California Department of Education (CDE) on agencies that deliver subsidized part- or full-day child care. Of those agencies that responded:

• 9,917 children are not being served by their full- or part-time preschool programs because of the budget impasse;

• 1,141 adults serving these children at full-day agencies have been laid off or had their hours reduced;

• 18,366 children are in jeopardy of losing their care because their provider is not being reimbursed because of the budget impasse;

• 90 staff serving children whose services are in jeopardy have been laid off or suffered reduced hours of employment at those agencies or providers;

The preliminary survey also revealed that some child care providers have closed and may not reopen even after the budget has been signed:

• 24 full-day preschool programs involving 81 sites closed or did not open on or before July 1;

• 29 full-day preschool programs involving 74 sites are currently operating with reduced hours; and

• 18 part-day preschool programs involving 79 sites also closed or did not open after July 1.

The CDE has no legislative authority to pay preschool programs until the 2010–11 state budget is enacted. Although agencies with CDE contracts are encouraged to have a reserve fund, agencies have difficulty managing the fiscal burden of operating a program over an extended period of time with no income from the state to cover costs. Some preschool centers that have shut down or are about to shut down have exhausted their cash reserves and have borrowed against future state funding.

For information on child care and development programs in California, please visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/op/cdprograms.asp.

# # #

The California Department of Education (CDE) is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. The core purpose of CDE is to lead and support the continuous improvement of student achievement, with a specific focus on closing achievement gaps. For more information, please visit http://www.cde.ca.gov or by mobile device at http://m.cde.ca.gov/. You may also follow Superintendent O'Connell (@SSPIJack) on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sspijack.



Thursday, September 23, 2010

CHILD CARE RALLY AND PRESS CONFERENCE - A CRY FOR HELP!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010, on the 84th day of the State budget not being signed, over a hundred parent advocates, children and child care providers mobilized in support of funding for child care centers impacted by State Budget impasse. Child care centers throughout Los Angeles County, like others across California, have closed their doors or will be closing their doors by the end of September 2010.

The future of child care is bleak in the midst of this historical budget conflict and unsigned budget for California. This State budget crisis is devastating and no resolution seems imminent soon. Parents are grappling to find alternatives to child care and many are concerned about how to maintain their employment and/or participate in educational and vocational training programs. Governor Schwarzenegger’s refusal to sign the budget and leave the task for his successor until January 2011 is causing a major calamity for child care centers.

Schwarzenegger has proposed to eliminate child care subsidies for 142,000 children. The State has not paid for approximately 55 percent of low-income families. To date, more than 18 programs with classrooms or sites in Los Angeles County have closed impacting 1,000 children and 280 staff who been furloughed according to Laura Escobedo, of the Local Planning Council for Los Angeles County.


In addition, more than 11,116 children in alternative payment programs will be impacted due to unpaid vouchers by the State of California. It is anticipated that 12 center based programs will be closing by September 30th. A total of 3,067 children will be without child care services and 409 staff will lose their jobs.

Unpaid vendors of these centers are also caught in the middle of this despairing situation. Payments to vendors have been placed indefinitely on hold until the signing of the State Budget. The financial indebtedness for these centers is mounting everyday and children, parents and child care staffs are suffering.

The event was organized by Hoover Intergenerational Care, Inc. (H.I.C.), The South Central Child Care Research and Training Consortium (SCCRTC), and Community Voices of Crystal Stairs Resource and Referral Agency. Participating child care centers among others included some of the following: Girls Club of Los Angeles, Heavenly Vision, Hoover Intergenerational Care, Inc., Second Baptist Church, Options Child Care, Children’s Collective, Inc., Child Development Consortium, Connections for Children, Center for Community and Family Services, Faithful Central Education Center, Coalition for School Readiness and Quality Children Services. Also attending on behalf of Senator Curren Price was Andrew Lachman.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

California Budget Impasse Set to Break 85-Day Record as No Vote Scheduled

California is poised this week to break its record of going 85 days without a budget as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers remain at odds over closing a $19 billion deficit in the most populous U.S. state.

“We can solve this in three seconds if the Democrats wanted to cut enough so the state could live within its means,” the 63-year-old Republican said in an interview before meeting with legislators in his Santa Monica office today.
“The second that happens, we could have a budget,” he said. “It’s a very difficult time for all of us.”

Lawmakers adjourned at the end of last month and haven’t scheduled a vote on the budget. The last time California had gone this long without a spending plan was on Sept. 23, 2008, when Schwarzenegger signed an accord a week after it was approved by legislators.

California, the biggest U.S. issuer of municipal debt, has missed its constitutional deadline to have a budget by the July 1 start of its fiscal year in all except four of the last 20 years. Budgets and tax increases require approval by a two- thirds vote of the Legislature, a so-called supermajority that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats can muster.

“The two-thirds supermajority required for budget passage basically sets them up each and every year to fail persistently like this,” said Guy LeBas, a fixed-income strategist with Janney Montgomery Scott, a financial advisory firm based in Philadelphia.

Rating Threat

At issue this year is how to best erase the resurgent deficit brought on by the recession that cut into state revenue. Schwarzenegger and Republicans want to dismantle the state’s main welfare program and slash $12.4 billion of spending. Democrats proposed $5.9 billion in higher taxes and fees combined with $8 billion of spending cuts.

The state’s credit grade may be cut if the stalemate continues for several months or more, Standard & Poor’s said in June. S&P rates the state A-, its fourth-lowest investment grade and the lowest among its peers. A lower rating may add to California’s borrowing costs. The extra yield investors demand on 10-year California bonds fell from 1.53 percentage points above AAA rated municipal securities Dec. 9 to 1.21 percentage points yesterday, Bloomberg Fair Value Index data show.

Schwarzenegger is demanding lawmakers roll back pension benefits for state workers to 1999 levels and agree to ask voters to approve spending curbs and the creation of a rainy-day fund.

IOU Alert

“It’s unfortunate that the Legislature has gone this long without a budget, but we absolutely will not just solve the short-term problem in front of us without addressing the pension and budget reforms so we don’t go through this again,” said Schwarzenegger’s spokesman, Aaron McLear.
California Controller John Chiang has warned that unless a compromise is reached soon he might have to once again resort to paying state bills with IOUs as soon as next month to ensure he has enough money to pay priority obligations such as debt service.
“It’s maddening and frustrating to be more than 80 days into the fiscal year without a budget,” said Senate President Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento. “We’re close to an agreement and I am hopeful a deal that is fiscally responsible, funds education at the highest level possible, and doesn’t shred the already delicate safety net, can come together soon.”
In 2009, two back-to-back impasses ended only after Schwarzenegger and lawmakers agreed to cut $32 billion from spending and raise taxes by $12.5 billion. He has vowed not to raise taxes again.

Compromise Call

The governor “needs to get together and work out a compromise,” said Kevin Richards, 58, an unemployed construction worker standing outside Schwarzenegger’s Santa Monica office.
“He can’t get anything done and I end up on the street,” said Richards, who said he once supported the governor and lost his unemployment benefits two months ago. “I’ve got sand in my hair from sleeping on the beach.”

After a budget agreement, California plans to issue as much as $10 billion in short-term notes. Schwarzenegger’s Department of Finance has identified about $6 billion of bonding needs for the period from the budget’s resolution to the end of November.

California last sold general-fund backed securities in June, when it offered about $120 million of debt for veterans’ homes. The state sold $450 million of public-works bonds in April and $5.9 billion of debt in March.

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael Marois in Sacramento at mmarois@bloomberg.net; Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

California Budget Crisis Press Conference

Save Child Care! Save Jobs!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 10 am


It is the longest budget stalemate in California history, and time and money is running out for South Los Angeles child care centers. Child Care providers have stopped receiving payments, child care centers have laid off staff and many have closed their doors. Without child care, parents are not able to work or participate in training programs that allow them to financially support their families and give them hope for a better future.

Please stand with the community on Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 10 am to tell the Governor to be a LEADER and pass a responsible budget that will help California’s families and children.


WHEN: Wednesday, September 22, 2010
TIME: 10 am
WHERE: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Office
300 S. Spring St, LA-State Building, Los Angeles, CA

For More information Contact:
Levi Kingston, Founder Bd. Chair Hoover Intergenerational Care 213- 748-3700
Adrienne Marks, Communication Director, Cell (805) 9984, e-mail ajmgrants4u@yahoo.com

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hands Around the Capitol on September 15, 2010

This WEDNESDAY September 15, the HHS Network and its partners will be holding the "HANDS AROUND THE CAPITOL" demonstration, and we need all hands on deck to make this our biggest push yet!

We'll be in the Capitol to call on obstructionist legislators and tell them, "WE NEED A GOOD BUDGET WITH REVENUES NOW!" Join us WEDNESDAY Sept. 15th at the South Steps of the State Capitol Building at 1:00 p.m.

The HHS Network is also reserving buses in the following location to help transport people to the Capitol:
Fresno
Stockton
Modesto
San Francisco
Hayward
Oakland
Berkeley
Richmond
Southern California


To reserve your bus seats today, please contact Jessica Lehman at jessica.lehman@cril-online.org or Jodi Reid at jreid@californiaalliance.org! Please contribute to make Sept 15 a decisive action in the budget campaign Hundreds of people with disabilities, seniors, parents, and others are preparing to come to the Capitol on September 15. Can you help us pay for transportation? Please click here to donate $5, $25, $100, or whatever you can give.

If the budget delay continues, critical services at child care centers, health care clinics, and community programs begin to shut down – and thousands of people who contract with the state get deeper in debt because they aren’t getting paid. That’s why organizations representing these Californians are planning a giant mobilization in Sacramento on Sept 15.

Why Sept 15? Legislative leaders will be in the Capitol, negotiating the budget. It’s also the day Governor Schwarzenegger returns from his trade mission in Asia. Those hardest hit by the state budget crisis will go to Sacramento to tell the obstructionists: You are forcing the closure of critical programs, job loss for hundreds of thousands of employed people, and hurting California seniors, children, families and people with disabilities.

Be a part of this campaign and contribute to the fund by going to hhsnetworkca.org and clicking on the donate button. Thanks so much!

HHS Network of CaliforniaVisit us online at HHS Network of CaliforniaBecome a Fan of the HHS Network of California on Facebook!Follow Us on Twitter!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The California State Budget - Update No. 3

The State Level

Today is Day 70 of the fiscal year. This year's stalemate has now passed the second-latest budget previously on the books (Sept. 5 for fiscal year 2002-2003). The record for the latest budget signing stands as Sept. 23 -- when Schwarzenegger signed the spending package for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.
Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders have one more day to meet for more budget negotiations before the governor's departure Thursday for a six-day trade mission in Asia.
Democratic leaders held back yesterday from criticizing the governor for going abroad without a budget in place, pointing out that talks can happen over the telephone while Schwarzenegger is away.
Although there is still no signed budget, there has at least been movement with other legislative bills. The following is a list of child care-related bills that await the Governor’s signature. The Governor has until September 30th to sign them.

AB 2084 (Brownley) - Child day care facilities: Nutrition
Requires a licensed child day care facility to follow specified guidelines relating to the provision of beverages (milk, juice & water). Includes the exclusion of a child, with documentation from a physician, from any of the requirements (e.g., 1% milk or nonfat milk, no beverages with added sweetener) if the child’s health would be adversely affected. Includes new findings and declarations and notes that if a child has a medical necessity for “medical food” documented by a physician or if a parent or guardian provides a beverage then the provider is exempted from the requirements of this bill as it relates to the child/ren involved. Includes definition for healthy beverages and other technical changes. Implementation delayed until January 1, 2012 and then only requires DSS-CCL determination of compliance during regularly scheduled visits.

AMENDED to allow the department to adapt the provisions of the most recent nutrition information available.

SB 1116 (Huff) - Heritage Schools
Defines heritage schools as programs that serve school age children that attend a full-day public or private school and educates children to speak a foreign language and learn about a foreign culture and customs. Heritage schools would be required to comply with fingerprinting and criminal record checks applicable to private schools and to file an affidavit with the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Requires the director of a heritage school to complete at least 15 hours of health and safety training and employees and volunteers to be in good health. It requires notification to parents that the school does not have a child care license. Includes a fee of $100 for initial affidavit filing and for each subsequent filing with of fee of $55 to be deposited in the Heritage Enrichment Resource Fund. Limits the fee for affidavit filing to the cost of the department in administering the program. Changes the filing requirements related to filing date, address requirements and enrollment information and from an affidavit or statement of operation to electronic registration form. Notes that Heritage schools do not satisfy state compulsory education requirements. Notes that Heritage schools shall not employ a person who is prohibited from employment by a public school district due to a crime conviction. Officially exempts a Heritage School from licensure as a child day care facility.

AB222 (Adams) – Ancillary Child Care
As of January 1, 2011 exempts employees under 18 years of age who provide care in an ancillary day care center from the requirement to register as a trustline provider. It would specifically provide that nothing in the trustline provider provisions shall be construed to prevent a person under 18 years of age from being employed in an ancillary day care center. A person who is denied trustline registration or has had registration revoked is ineligible for employment. This bill permits an employee or perspective employee to work pending the review of the trustline application.

SB 1381 (Simitian) - Kindergarten Readiness Pilot Program
Changes the kindergarten and first grade entry age progressively beginning in 2011-12 through 2014-15 back by one month each year. Requires that those children ineligible for kindergarten be admitted to a transitional kindergarten program and included in the calculation of average daily attendance. *Transitional Kindergarten defined as the first year of a two-year kindergarten program maintained by the school district.

*AB 434 (Block) - After School Program: Matching Funds
Authorizes the cost of a program site supervisor selected under the ASES Program Act of 2002 to be included as direct services, provided that at least 85% of the site supervisor’s time is spent at the program site. The site supervisor cost may be include in direct services but doesn’t have to be AB 2178 (Torlakson) - After School Education and Safety Program
To the extent consistent with federal and state privacy laws, would allow school districts to provide After School Education and Safety Programs and 21st Century Community Learning Centers with specified data.

SB 798 (DeSaulnier) - 21st Century Learning Centers
Revises the criteria and priorities for allocating funds as of January 1, 2010. Revises the percentage of funds required to be allocated and establishes per-day rates for the operation of year-round programs, school-year programs and summer or intersession programs. Requires the department to periodically review the appropriateness of percentages for allocation of funds and authorize them to adjust the percentages after consulting the Advisory Committee on Before and After School Programs. Technical changes made.

The Water Cooler Bubble Up Report

Women’s Budget Rally

Who/What: Democratic members of the Legislative Women’s Caucus will hold rally/press conference to denounce Governor’s proposed budget, which targets women and children and subjects them to disproportionate harm.

Date: Wednesday, September 8th

Time: 11:30am-12:30pm

Location: West Steps of the Capitol (10th Street Side)

Purpose: Highlighting the need to fund vital programs that support women and children.

Calling on the Governor to stay in the country and continue to work on a budget that is fair and doesn’t target the women and children of California.

The Democratic members of the Legislative Women's Caucus are hosting a rally next Wednesday, September 8 on the West steps of the State Capitol to protest the Governor's/Republican's proposed cuts to CalWORKs and child care. We need to get as many people to the Capitol for this rally as possible. If you are able to join us for this one-hour event, you will be helping to emphasize the importance of these programs to women and children. The Women's Caucus has consistently stood behind our issues, and now is the time we need to stand behind and support their efforts to hold off on any more cuts to child care and CalWORKs and to push for agreement on a state budget. Urge members in your community to join us in our efforts on Tuesday.

If you think you can attend and can get others to join you, please e-mail me and let me know and provide information on approximate numbers. We are trying to keep the staff posted on the number of participants we can bring. Thanks for your continued strength, effort, and energy on behalf of California's children and families.

"Working to Meet Child Care Needs in California"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Campaign to Save Child Care - Statewide Legislative District Visits



On August 20, 2010, Community Voices joined Child Care Providers UNITED (joint local of SEIU and AFSCME) on a statewide legislative districts visit campaign on behalf of Campaign to Save Child Care Coalition.On this day, a coalition of parents, child care providers and child care advocates conducted statewide visits to their local Assemblymembers and Senators asking them to hold the line and protect child care from additional reductions and for revenue solutions to be part of the final budget.Here in Los Angeles, the Community Voices chapter at MAOF spearhead by Claudia Aguilar visited Senator Gloria Romero’s office. Leticia Garcia, who is the Senator’s Education Specialist, listened to our members and advising that the Senator’s support our cause and as her term comes to an end, to also outreach to Ed Hernandez, who will be taking her place.

The Community Voices chapter at Center for Community and Family Services spearheaded by Patricia Walker, also visited Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, although not present during the visit, Bianca Villanueva, Field Representative, listened to community voices parents’ testimony. Finally, the Community Voices chapter at Pathways, spearheaded by Briseida Gonzalez, visited Assemblymember Kevin De Leon’s office, who’s District Director, Steve Veres, warmly indicated the Assemblymember’s support.

All in all, the visits were successful in carrying out the message to hold the line against any further cuts, to support a budget that protects child care funding, keeps parents and child care providers working and keeps our children learning. One thing that was common among these visits though, was the overall feeling that no one really knew when the budget was going to be signed, which is more of a reason to keep pressuring our elected officials and to keep getting involved and engaged.
Fred Munoz
Community Voices Project Coordinator

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

AM Alert: Fun facts about late budgets

It's Day 44 of the fiscal year, with no spending plan in place. But Capitol denizens know it's not the latest budget of all time. It's not even close. In fact, we have to get to Day 86 before California can lay claim to a new record.

Quick quiz: Of the five latest budgets in the Golden State, how many were signed by a Republican and how many by a Democrat? The score is Republicans, 4, and Democrats, 1. And now for some other fun facts about the five latest budgets...

Latest budget ever (so far): Fiscal year 2008-2009 Governor: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Date Signed: Sept. 23, 2008

Second latest budget: Fiscal year 2002-2003 Governor: Gray Davis

Date Signed: Sept. 5, 2002

Third latest budget: Fiscal year 1992-1993 Governor: Pete Wilson

Date Signed: Sept. 2, 1992

Fourth latest budget: Fiscal year 2007-2008 Governor: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Date Signed: Aug. 24, 2007

Fifth latest budget: Fiscal year 1998-1999 Governor: Pete Wilson

Date Signed: Aug. 21, 1998

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

HAVE REPUBLICANS BACKED OFF ELIMINATION OF WELFARE?

August 17, 2010
by Kevin Yamamura (Sacramento Bee)

One of the defining cuts of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed May budget was the elimination of welfare-to-work.

The proposal would make California the only state without a welfare program and cost the state more than $3.7 billion in federal funds to save $1.2 billion in state expenditures. For those reasons, many people considered the elimination a negotiating ploy.

Schwarzenegger and Republican lawmakers still say publicly that the state can't afford CalWORKs, which is heavily subsidized by the federal government but not required. Democrats have used the elimination as a prime example of why they think Schwarzenegger's May budget isn't very realistic.

But in an interview last week, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg suggested that Republicans have backed away from the CalWORKs elimination in private talks. He noted that Republicans are now asking for $500 million in CalWORKs cuts - short of the $1.2 billion CalWORKs elimination.

Steinberg mentioned Republicans are also seeking $500 million in cuts to state-subsidized child care -- thereby also backing off the $1.2 billion child-care elimination in Schwarzenegger's budget.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear wouldn't confirm or deny that the governor has proposed smaller cuts but acknowledged that different ideas have been floated.
"We've offered a number of alternatives in the meetings with Democrats, but they've rejected them so far," McLear said.

Steinberg did not say how Republicans would buy down the cuts, only that their proposal didn't pencil out in his view. Democrats have proposed roughly $4.5 billion in new tax revenues, from delaying corporate tax breaks to a complicated shift in tax rates on sales, vehicles and income.
"We have gone through what they have discussed with us, and their numbers don't add up," Steinberg said. "You cannot get there credibly without some form of revenue to substitute for deep, deep cuts, whether it's the complete elimination of programs or it's half a billion dollars worth of cuts to child care or CalWORKs."

Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth said he hasn't offered the $500 million welfare cut as a budget alternative, though he said such a proposal "isn't impossible" if Democrats target other programs.

"If the Democrats don't want to cut the $1.2 billion that's on the table from CalWORKs, then they need to find other places to cut," Hollingsworth said. "So if they find other cuts that make the budget stable and reach a sustainable level of spending, then a $500 million cut to CalWORKs isn't impossible. I'm just of the philosophical bent that we should not be raising taxes in order to preserve welfare programs that we can't afford in these times."

It appears that the $500 million cut proposal would rely largely on reducing grants to welfare families by 15.7 percent, a proposal that Schwarzenegger offered in his January budget. The governor also wants to eliminate CalWORKs benefits for legal immigrants who have been in the country for less than five years; the federal government does not pay for those individuals.
Frank Mecca, director of the California Welfare Directors Association, said the governor's grant cut proposal would have severe consequences for poor families.

"Right now, in nominal dollars, grants today are exactly where they were 20 years ago," Mecca said. "So we're talking about a cut that would put poor children that much further into poverty. My members are convinced a grant cut of that magnitude would cause widespread homelessness."Read more: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2010/08/steinberg-republicans-have-bac.html#ixzz0wuS5wZtI

CHILD CARE PROVIDERS STRUGGLE WITHOUT A STATE BUDGET

August 17, 2010
Mandy Hofmockel

Without a state budget, child care programs funded through school districts, nonprofit organizations and licensed individuals are facing financial hardships as they try to "float" their budgets until state funds are let loose.

Some child care providers have been forced to close, and others are considering closing in the coming weeks if no budget is signed, county child care coordinators said.

In his May revision of the 2010-11 budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed eliminating about $1.2 billion in need-based, subsidized child care. The governor's proposed budget included state preschool, but eliminated about 142,000 slots for subsidized child care, according to the revision.

H.D. Palmer, state Department of Finance spokesman, said the now-dead proposal to remove child care from the budget came about because of billions of dollars in lost savings in May relative to the January budget due to "legislative inaction," he said. Palmer said the governor's proposal to remove child care from the budget was no longer "on the table" since the Legislature has rejected it.

But until a budget is passed, those working with child care providers say some of programs are struggling financially and even closing. Donita Stromgren, policy and member services director for the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, said child care providers are finding it difficult to secure lines of credit and loans to float their operations.

According to the Bay Area Hispano Institute for Advancement, providers in Alameda County already have faced cutbacks:
In Hayward USD, programs have already shut down due to action taken by the School Board in May to pink slip 75 child care staff (not only jeopardizing the jobs of families relying on the child care services the district provides, but adding its own staff to the growing numbers of unemployed.) Eight Oakland Unified School District child care centers are closing doors after July 30, 2010. In Berkeley and neighboring districts, programs will close as of August 31, 2010. For Alameda County school districts, this adds up to more than 600 preschool teachers and child care staff losing their jobs, and over 1500 preschool children and 1700 school age children losing programs and child care.

Alameda County Child Care Coordinator Angie Garling said programs there are pursuing financial assistance like repayable grants and loans, but those loans come interest payments "I just don't think that's fair," she said, "It's basically the Legislature and the governor taking money away from kids."

Lori Riggs, coordinator of Imperial County's child care and development planning council, said her county is "holding on by the skin of their teeth right now." Riggs said licensed child care providers who provide care out of their homes are also at risk as they don't have access to lines of credit that could hold them over until a budget is signed.
"It's devastating to them," she said.

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger is pursuing another round of furloughs for about 144,000 state government workers, a move the governor said is designed to avoid cutbacks in social services programs. Schwarzenegger has asked the state Supreme Court to grant him to authority to institute the furloughs, which would require state employees to take three unpaid days off from work each month.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Budget Update - August 9, 2010

The State Level
Today is day 40 of the new fiscal year without a signed budget. There seems to be lots of activity brewing in the capitol, but nothing has resulted in a signed budget. Here is the state landscape: The Governor has threatened to leave office without signing a budget. The Republicans are holding steadfast against approving any budget that includes taxes. The federal government is contemplating not sending California $2 billion in ARRA federal funding. The Controller’s office has stated that it will run out of cash by the end of August.

This week, the Democrats released their “Jobs budget”. This budget is in response to the Governor’s May Revise, is an attempt to jumpstart budget negotiations, and would close the state’s budget deficit while protecting jobs and preventing layoffs that would push California’s unemployment above 14 percent. Here are highlights of the proposal:


* Protects the jobs of over 35,000 teachers and other school employees
* Protects childcare programs that allow working parents to remain in the workforce and keep over 50,000 child care providers in business and their employees earning paychecks
* Makes repayments to local governments that will help them avoid cutting as many as 20,000 critical public service jobs
* Maintains healthcare spending and safety net federal funds that together saves over 300,000 jobs
* Maintains some safety net to make sure California isn’t the only state in the nation without a welfare-to-work program
* Provides $300 million for targeted programs that will create thousands of jobs
* Rejects $3.4 billion in education cuts the governor has proposed
* Restores cuts to the UC and CSU systems
* Provides full funding for Community Colleges and doubles funding for the Economic Development program
* Cuts taxes for all California income levels by dramatically reducing the sales tax and while increasing taxes that can be federally deducted; these changes provide net tax relief to all income groups
* Accelerates repayments to school districts and local governments
* Provides a real reserve of $550 million
* Brings in $4.1 billion federal matching funds to California by rejecting Governor’s health care and safety net cuts that leave federal money on the table
* Closes the Oil Drilling Loophole, delaying new corporate tax breaks and dedicating new revenues to restructuring proposals and job protection efforts

It is uncertain as to the response this Budget Plan will receive in Sacramento. Republicans are not keen on taxes, but there has been some talk that some republicans will be will be willing to support taxes that go towards public and child safety.

Some good things in the proposal are that child care is protected and that the county realignment proposal has been rejected. While this is NOT a final budget, but merely a new starting point for negotiation, it is a plus that county realignment is off the table. It is also a plus that Los Angeles County administrators are not enthused about the county realignment proposal either. This helps tremendously in our ability to make the case that such a restructuring would be devastating to the child care community.

The Federal Level
There has been much activity at the federal level as well. Here are some highlights:
Congress passed H.R. 4213, a bill that continues the unemployment benefits program through the end of November. President Obama signed the bill into law on July 21. The legislation will allow long-term unemployed who exhaust their state jobless benefits, typically available for 26 weeks, to receive up to an additional 73 weeks of federal benefits.

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committee have approved spending caps for their dozen spending bills.

The Senate committee set its FY 2011 appropriations total $14 billion less than the President’s, but $24 billion more than FY 2010.

The House committee’s total is $7.3 billion less than the President’s request, and $31 billion more than this year’s spending.
In the House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee, although the increases were not as high as the President had proposed, there was growth in funding for child care and Head Start. The Child Care and Development Block Grant would rise from $2.1 billion this year to $2.8 billion. Head Start would grow by $866 million, to $8.1 billion. The President proposed another $100 million beyond the House level for child care, and another $124 million more for Head Start.

In other education funding, the House Subcommittee does not provide all of the funding the President sought for his new Race to the Top initiative. The President recommended $1.35 billion to fund this new program; the Subcommittee included $800 million. In another new initiative sought by the President, the Investing in Innovation Fund, the Subcommittee approved $400 million or $100 million less than the President requested. However, the Subcommittee provided more than the Administration asked for K-12 Education for the Disadvantaged (Title I), Special Education (IDEA), School Improvement Programs, and Impact Aid. In all, the Subcommittee provides $7.7 billion more for the Department of Education than its FY 2010 levels, but nearly $1.5 billion less than the President recommended.

Significant improvements in child nutrition programs passed the House Education and Labor Committee on July 15. The Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act (H.R. 5504) received strong bipartisan support with a vote of 32-13. The 10-year reauthorization bill comes at a critical time when the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 17 million, almost 1 in 4 American children, are hungry.

Many children from low-income families do not have access to nutritious meals year-round. In FY 2009, 19.5 million children received reduced price or free lunches but only 2.2 million children participated in summer food programs. Key to the passage of a child nutrition bill will be funding the improvements to the programs. To comply with the pay-as-you-go budget rules, the improvements must be paid for (offset) with program cuts or through additional revenues. The Senate bill identifies offsets for its $4.5 billion 10-year increase whereas the House bill does not indicate how its $8 billion increase would be funded.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

CALIFORNIA STATE BUDGET UPDATE

August 5, 2010 - Los Angeles Times: Budget bickering goes public in dispute over Democratic plan

Lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger bickered publicly over the state budget in May and June. They took those discussions behind closed doors in July. Neither approach yielded much progress.

So Democratic leaders went public with a new budget plan this week – hiking vehicle and income taxes while slashing the state sales tax. Republicans are swatting back the proposal publicly as well.

In an Op-Ed article Thursday, the Legislature’s two GOP leaders, Assemblyman Martin Garrick of Solana Beach and state Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta, called the plan “dead on arrival.” Schwarzenegger’s spokesman, Aaron McLear, said the same thing the day the Democrats unveiled the plan.

Democrats, meanwhile, are pitching the plan as concessionary to the GOP: Although it would raise income taxes for all brackets, Californians in the top income bracket would see the smallest hike.

That has resulted in some topsy-turvy rhetoric in a Capitol where Democrats have long fashioned themselves as the defenders of the downtrodden.

“The poor, seniors, renters and working families … will be hit the hardest,” Garrick and Hollingsworth wrote of the plan in the Sacramento Bee.

The Democrats cast the plan, which raises revenues for the state, as a tax cut. They say the new taxes on vehicles and income are deductible from federal tax returns, while existing sales taxes are not. Schwarzenegger and Republicans have disputed that math.