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


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


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


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.

Monday, August 2, 2010


California Budget Crisis:

SACRAMENTO, CALIF (CDCAN) [Updated 07/31/2010 11:40 AM (Pacific Time)] With no end in sight to resolve the State’s budget crisis and how to close the $19 billion projected shortfall, the full Legislature will be returning to the State Capitol on Monday (August 2) to reconvene floor sessions and some committee hearings after a month long summer recess, and at least two scheduled meetings of the Budget Conference Committee.

Major Issues To Reach Budget Deal Are Outside the Conference Committee
The major issues of how to close the State’s projected $19 billion deficit – including ideas on raising or increasing revevnues, proposals to reduce spending either through cuts or increasing funding from the federal government, proposals to offset temporarily some major budget cuts and increase funding for some local government programs through borrowing – are issues that will not be ultimately resolved in the Budget Conference Committee.

Those issues – that when resolved could mean larger spending cuts or other major changes in state policies impacting children and adults with disabilities, mental health needs and seniors – is the central focus of discussion among the four legislative leaders and Governor.

Making California’s budget woes worse are the increasing likelihood that more federal money – including the extension of the temporary increase in the Medicaid funding match – will not happen.

Budget Conference Committee To Meet Tuesday and Wednesday
The Budget Conference Committee, chaired by Sen. Denise Ducheny (Democrat – San Diego, 40th State Senate District), is scheduled to meet at least twice next week at the State Capitol in Room 4203:
· August 3 (Tuesday) at 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM and from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
· August 4 (Wednesday) – conference committee will meet when the Senate Health Committee adjourns (the Senate Health Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday at 1:30 PM to hear 3 bills).

Budget Conference Committee Will Attempt To Close “Open” Items
The Budget Conference Committee will likely make a final attempt to close as many of the “open” issues before it, including taking action on some compromises reached on several controversial budget issues.

“Open” items are those budget issues where the Assembly and State Senate took a different action on a proposal by the Governor. Proposals where both houses took the same action, are not issues the Budget Conference Committee addresses.

However previous decisions by the two budget subcommittees to reject some earlier cuts or closing an issue in budget conference committee – given the size of the unresolved deficit – could be reversed completely or partially as part of a larger deal to reach a budget agreement later.

Controversial or Major Issues Left “Open” Still In Conference Committee
Some of those issues could include final action by the committee include (this is not the full list of remaining open issues – CDCAN will issue a report later this weekend covering all remaining “open” issues in the budget conference committee:
· AB 3632 special education mental health mandate – Governor proposed earlier to suspend current state law and shift responsibility, but not the funding, back to the schools. The bill number refers to legislation authored in the mid 1980’s by then Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, that took responsibility and provided funding to the counties to oversee and implement mental health services for special education students.
· AB 1629 the reauthorization to continue with several major changes, the AB 1629 quality assurance fee imposed on many nursing facilities that in turn is matched by federal Medicaid dollars. With the increased funding coming to the State, the providers are reimbursed for the fee that they paid (with some exceptions) . A compromise agreement by advocates and the State would impose some new requirements on nursing facilities in order to receive additional increased reimbursements from the quality assurance fee money. The compromise agreement – which still needs final approval from the Legislature and the Governor – would also include some level of funding for the Long Term Care Ombudsman. “AB 1629” refers to the original bill – authored by then Assemblymember Dario Frommer in August 2004, that first authorized the quality assurance fee on nursing facilities. The concept of imposing a fee on a provider so it could be matched by federal Medicaid money was first done a year earlier for intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled (ICF-DDs).
· In-Home Supportive Services: Instead of making deep reductions to the IHSS program as proposed by the Governor, the Legislature is looking a proposal – advanced by the unions representing some of the IHSS workers, to impose a “fee” on In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers (providers) that would be matched by federal Medicaid dollars. The fee would be similar in concept to the quality assurance fee imposed on certain types of nursing homes (under AB 1629) and intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled. Those IHSS workers would be reimbursed for the fee – and the remaining increased federal money coming to the State would help to off-set some of the costs to the IHSS program. Details of the proposal will be put into legislation which will likely be heard in policy committees in the coming weeks. This proposal – even if approved by the Legislature and Governor – would still need approval by the federal government.
· Section 1115 Medicaid Waiver – the Legislature last July approved the Governor’s proposal to renew and significantly expand the existing Section 1115 Medicaid Waiver – set to expire in August this year. Two identical bills – AB 342 (by Assembly Speaker John Perez) and SB 208 (by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg) were amended in June, to include some of the issues and concerns raised regarding the waiver proposal – which includes mandatory enrollment for hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities, mental health needs and seniors into existing managed health care plans. The issue before the conference committee technically is about approving additional state staffing to move forward on the waiver – not the actual waiver itself.
· Regional Centers – Governor proposed an additional $50 million (includes federal matching funds) reduction to be achieved with an additional 1.25% cut in reimbursements to most regional center providers and in the regional center operations budget. That would increase those reductions – first imposed February 1, 2009, to 4.25%, if the additional cut is approved.

Meanwhile, the Legislature comes back to resume regular floor sessions, Appropriations Committee hearings and some policy committee hearing. Several important upcoming deadlines are approaching for non-budget bills:
· August 13 (Friday) – last day for the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees to hear and report out bills to their floors. Any bill held in these committees cannot move forward (unless it is an “urgency” measure). There are no further policy committee hearings allowed in August except for bills with a rule waiver or bills that are “urgency” measures or bills where a committee simply wants to hear the subject matter.
· August 31 (Tuesday) - the Legislature must take action on its remaining bills still alive on or before August 31 – the deadline in the State Constitution for the Legislature to pass bills this year. That deadline has no impact on the State Budget however, because the Legislature can consider those budget related bills – as it has before – in a special (or extraordinary) session.

2:00 PM – State Capitol – Room 126 [note room change]
Chaired by: Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (Democrat – Davis)
***Oversight (Informational) Hearing: “The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program – Protecting the Protectors of Our Most Vulnerable Adults”
CDCAN Note: Funding for this program last year was dramatically reduced by the Governor and had a significant impact on this program and the people and families it serves. Some efforts to restore some or nearly all of the program’s funding is being made this year – through legislation (AB 2555), renewal or reauthorization of the AB 1629 Quality Assurance Fee, and some actions by the legislative budget subcommittees.

1:30 PM – State Capitol – Room 4203
Chair: Sen. Elaine Kontominas Alquist (Democrat – Santa Clara, 13th State Senate District)
Note: Bills to be heard in order of bill author sign-in. Public testimony limited to two witnesses in support and two witnesses in opposition (2 minutes each person)
· AB 52 (Portantino) - Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program. (Urgency)
· AB 718 (Emmerson) - Health Care Coverage: Federally Eligible Defined Individuals: Preferred Provider Products: Premium Rates. (Urgency)
· AB 2599 (Bass) - Medi–Cal: South Los Angeles. (Urgency)
CDCAN Note: Budget Conference Committee will convene immediately upon adjournment of this committee hearing in the same hearing room.