From the Children Now Newsroom
Children Now statement in response to May Revise
May 14, 2008
The following is a statement by Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, regarding today’s release of Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget:
“It’s mind-boggling that too many of our state’s leaders still can’t see the shortsightedness of cutting children’s health, education and economic support. California’s children currently are well behind national average measures of well-being and per-child funding. It’s also clear that investment in these programs today will reduce the state’s future costs and increase its future revenues. Yet California continues to make decisions that are leading us closer and closer to a next generation that can’t support our human capital needs and increasingly overburdens public costs. We’re shortchanging our future in big, bad ways.”
Additional commentary on specific aspects of the Governor’s proposed budget pertaining to children’s well-being is provided below:
Children Now commends the Governor for the efforts made to find revenue sources to protect education, particularly to the extent that this would avoid suspension of the minimum guarantee. That said, even this revised level reflects an 8.8 percent reduction in the amount of funding needed to maintain the current level of services. This does not bode well for the future of our children or the economic prosperity of California.
2008 Education Reform Agenda - Information Systems
The Governor continues to fund the development of the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CalPADS) and California Longitudinal Teacher Integrated Data Education System (CalTIDES) systems, declaring that he believes it is necessary to fully implement CalPADS and CalTIDES and analyze other available sources of information before efforts are made to expand and/or improve these systems. Given that a comprehensive information system for education is a must for improving education policy and instructional approaches, this declaration is misguided. Major progress through modest investments can and must occur this year. Improved systems are fundamental to improving education in California.
Early Care and Education
Overall, today’s proposed budget does not provide adequate support for early care and education. We must find a better way to improve the system overall. The proposed budget (1) cuts quality CDE child development programs and (2) nominally increases CalWORKs child care funding, but at the same time reduces the funding for the child care programs that care for CalWORKs kids. This proposal does not help create a quality child development system for all families, it just perpetuates the system’s dysfunction. Included in the proposed budget are:
- A $198.8 million cut to these programs proposed in January is still in place. This means cuts to state preschool, general child care and other CDE child development programs. It is estimated that this will result in 18,000 reduced slots while already there are about 137,000 eligible children on the state’s child care waiting list;
- A slight increase ($45.4 million) to provide additional support to families on CalWORKs receiving child care is included;
- A cut of $19.4 million in the reimbursement rate for programs accepting children using vouchers to pay for child care (including CalWORKs families);
- A change to when programs accepting children using vouchers may get an increase in funding based on a market survey from every year to every two years.
Budget Proposals Impacting Children’s Health
Unfortunately, the Governor’s May Revise does more harm to children’s health care. Not only did the Governor include all of the egregious budget cuts contained in his January proposal, he’s added to them.
In addition to January’s proposed cuts, the May Revise includes the following decreases to children’s health support:
- $13 million decrease due to the delayed implementation of SB 437 for two years; this bill would have streamlined enrollment and renewal processes for children’s health insurance programs and increased coverage to an estimated 94,000 additional California children;
- $42 million decrease by implementing a monthly eligibility requirement for emergency services for undocumented immigrants, including children—as we know, this new requirement creates a burden for families and a barrier to care for children;
- $86.7 million decrease by limiting benefits for newly qualified immigrants, including children and immigrants who permanently reside under the color of law (PRUCOL) to the same level as currently provided for undocumented immigrants—this proposal will impact 81,000 people including vulnerable children who will not be able to get the comprehensive care they need;
- $31.2 million decrease from the rollback of the allowable income level for persons applying for Section 1931(b), which provides Medi-Cal eligibility to families with low incomes who meet eligibility requirements. The qualifying level would be lowered to 61 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) and employment would be defined as the principal wage earner working less than 100 hours a month.
Proposals from January budget still on the chopping block:
Reinstatement of quarterly status reports in Medi-Cal for children and parents:
Children must currently prove eligibility for Medi-Cal on an annual basis, and parents on a semi-annual basis. The proposed budget would reinstate quarterly status reports, which would require children and parents to submit eligibility verification documents every three months. Previous state experience with quarterly reporting has demonstrated significant administrative burden and cost, as well as “churning” of children in and out of programs unnecessarily.
Increases to Healthy Families premiums and co-pays:
The budget proposes premium increases of $7 (a 78 percent increase) for children in families at 150-200 percent of federal poverty level (FPL) and $4 (a 27 percent increase) for children in families at 200-250 percent FPL. There is also a proposed increase in non-prevention co-payments to $7.50 (a 50 percent increase) for those above 150 percent FPL. Research shows that any increase in cost-sharing in public programs negatively impacts enrollment in the program and can hinder a child’s ability to receive the care and services they need.
Limits on dental care for children in Healthy Families:
The budget proposes a $1,000 cap on Healthy Families dental coverage per child per year, estimated to affect 5 percent of children enrolled in the program. Poor oral health can lead to missed school days and systemic health problems.
County administrative cuts:
A proposed 10 percent cut undermines county administration of many of the public programs so vital to children’s health, at the same time that counties are being asked to implement quarterly status reporting.
No reinstatement of funding for children’s health county outreach grants:
These grants – which were also cut in last year’s budget – would have funded local efforts to reach tens of thousands of children currently eligible for, but not enrolled in, Medi-Cal and Healthy Families.
California’s budget woes should not be solved at the expense of our state’s children. We are extremely disappointed and disheartened that the administration has not prioritized our one of our state’s most valuable resources, our children.