On January 10, Governor Newsom introduced his 2023-24 State Budget proposal, which maintained funding and support for most major safety net programs, but failed to make the investments needed to address the level of hunger and inequity faced by Californians with low and moderate income. While we recognize state revenues are predicted to fall short this year, it is in such times of economic downturn that the state must invest in programs and services that foster equity and make California a state for ALL.
Families are struggling to put food on the table, immigrant families are still denied basic resources and services,older adults need support to age with dignity, and kids and college students deserve to learn grow and thrive to reach their full potential. State leaders should make bold investments in essential services and the long-term nutrition safety net. We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Newsom administration this legislative session to secure much-needed investments in food and nutrition programs that will mitigate the alarming, persistent rates of hunger and hardship across our state.
Below is a summary of the Governor’s budget proposals with respect to food and nutrition.
Food and Nutrition
The Governor’s budget proposal does not include new investments to remove exclusions to the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for Californians ages 54 and under, regardless of immigration status. The 2021-22 State Budget included funding for CFAP automation and system readiness. Last year, the Legislature and the Governor took action to include an allocation of $40 million to provide CFAP food benefits to income-eligible California immigrants ages 55 and older, who are excluded from CalFresh solely due to their immigration status.
This year’s Governor’s proposed budget includes an implementation date for this historic expansion set to begin January 1, 2027 — a three year delay from what was anticipated. Nourish California, the California Immigrant Policy Center, and the Food4All Coalition will continue to work with our legislative champions, the legislature, and the Governor’s office to ensure timely access to CFAP benefits for Californians of all ages, regardless of immigration status.
Take Action: Join the Food4All Campaign to expand CFAP to income-eligible Californians of all ages, regardless of immigration status. No exception, No exclusions, No delays.
The Governor’s budget proposal funds the CalFood program at $52 million, on top of the already existing annual baseline of $8M, totaling $60M in the 2023-24 budget to mitigate increased food needs among Californians with low income. We call on the Governor and Legislature to provide adequate ongoing funding to address the ongoing elevated need across the state. For more information, see the California Association of Food Banks’ budget statement.
The Governor’s proposed budget continues to invest in students’ access to breakfast and lunch — free of charge — each school day. The proposed budget also reflects a substantive child nutrition COLA to help account for rising food and operational costs that may affect the viability of school nutrition programs.
We applaud the administration for this commitment to health, well being, and learning among all kids in California public schools. We’ll continue to monitor investments in school nutrition as the state budget process continues. We urge the Governor and the Legislature to guarantee that funding for meal reimbursements remains secure, sustainable, and sufficient. We also call on state budget leaders to ensure schools have the necessary resources and capacity to reach all students with nutritious, appealing, culturally appropriate meals.
The Governor’s budget proposal includes $50 million ($17.1 million General Fund) in 2023-24, $23 million ($7.9 million General Fund) in 2024-25, and $3.5 million ($1.2 million General Fund) in 2025-26 to prevent benefit theft, which has risen markedly in the past two years. The funding will provide security upgrades and EBT card technology enhancements to safeguard CalWORKs and CalFresh clients’ access to benefits. We applaud the administration for taking this step to protect Californians who rely on cash and food assistance benefits to meet their basic needs.
There are no other proposed investments in CalFresh despite the looming CalFresh “benefits cliff” that participants will face at the end of March. See more below.
Urgent Budget Action Needed: Anti-hunger advocates are deeply concerned about the impending cut to CalFresh benefits. March 2023 will be the last month that CalFresh participants receive pandemic-era “Emergency Allotments,” which boosted benefits to the maximum monthly allotment for all CalFresh participants. Beginning in April, the average participant will lose $130 per month in vital food assistance, and nearly 15 percent of participants — over 300,000 households will see their benefits reduced to only $23 per month.
Take Action: Join the Campaign to Boost CalFresh Benefits by extending and expanding successful supplemental benefit programs and by raising the minimum benefit to $50 per month.
Early Care Nutrition
The Budget includes $1.5 million for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to reflect an estimated statutory COLA of 8.13 percent. We are pleased that the state reimbursement rate for CACFP will be adjusted to more accurately reflect the higher cost of food due to inflation. The proposed budget fails, however, to bring equity to child care nutrition programs by eliminating the state meal reimbursement rate gap that unjustly discriminates against providers feeding younger children in family child care settings.
Take Action: Join the Food with Care 2023 Campaign to ensure healthy meals for our youngest learners and full reimbursement for child care providers.
Safety Net and Income Support
Below is a summary of the Governor’s budget proposals with respect to the broader social safety net.
The proposed budget projects a 2.9-percent increase to CalWORKs Maximum Aid Payment levels, with an estimated cost of $87 million in 2023-24. We are pleased that the Governor recognizes the need for increased cash assistance — particularly in a time of high inflation. But the increase still falls short of the true need among participants.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) / State Supplementary Payment (SSP)
The proposed budget includes $146 million General Fund in 2023-24 and $292 million ongoing for an additional SSP increase of approximately 8.6 percent, effective January 1, 2024.
The Budget includes $301.7 million General Fund for Child Care and Development Programs to reflect an estimated statutory COLA of 8.13 percent. Unfortunately, the Governor also proposes to delay the expansion of 20,000 additional child care slots from 2023-24 to 2024-25. Given the high, often prohibitive, cost of child care in our state, we are disappointed that the administration is proposing to delay this long overdue expansion.
Department of Developmental Services Safety Net Plan Update
The Budget includes $28.7 million ($22.1 million General Fund) to expand safety net services to further support individuals with complex needs and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
We are very pleased that the proposed budget maintains funding levels to expand full-scope Medi-Cal eligibility to all income-eligible adults ages 26 to 49 regardless of immigration status on January 1, 2024. We are very pleased that the Governor kept his commitment to expanding health care access to all immigrants. For more information, see the California Immigrant Policy Center’s budget statement.
Additionally, the Budget maintains the approximately $10 billion total funds commitment to continue transforming the health care delivery system through California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM), including programs providing medically-tailored and medically-supportive meals to Californians with specific dietary needs.
The proposed budget also funds the Cal-AIM Justice Involved Individuals initiatives that seek to address poor health outcomes among justice-involved individuals. According to DHCS, “at least 80 percent of justice-involved individuals are eligible for Medi-Cal. CalAIM has the potential to make a significant difference in the health of this population.” Nourish California and our Thriving Transitions coalition partners are calling on state leaders to go further to connect justice-involved individuals with food and nutrition resources like CalFresh.
Take Action: Join the Thriving Transitions Campaign to support justice-impacted Californians accessing food, housing, employment, and other support immediately upon and after release.
Homelessness and Housing
The Governor’s January budget maintains previously promised funds from the 2022-23 Budget Act, including: $1 billion General Fund for the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) Grant Program, $400 million G for encampments resolution grants for local jurisdictions, and $250 million for the Behavioral Health Bridge Housing Program. Unfortunately, no new funding was allocated in the proposed budget. Rather, the administration is pushing for stronger accountability measures.
The Legislature has begun holding budget hearings to discuss the Governor’s January budget proposal and to begin crafting the Budget Act of 2023. Negotiations between the Legislature and the Administration will help craft the Governor’s May Revision of his budget proposal. The Legislature has until June 15 to pass a budget bill. The Governor then faces a July 1 deadline to sign and enact the final budget.
Jared Call, Nourish California’s Senior Advocate, gave public comment at the January 18th Budget and Fiscal Review. You can watch his comment here.
The state budget reflects our collective values and priorities. Your advocacy can shape the state budget. Join our campaign actions and stay up to date by visiting our new action center: act.nourishca.org