Key Investments in the Governor’s 2022-23 Budget Proposal Help Meet the Basic Needs of Californians, But Don’t Do Enough to Address Hunger

Published on Jan 20, 2022 in Adults, CalFresh, Child Nutrition, Immigrants, Older Adults, School-Aged Children, Young Children

Overview

On January 10, Governor Newsom introduced his 2022-23 State Budget proposal, which includes key investments that would expand access to safety net programs for Californians with low income. We applaud the Governor’s progress toward an equitable, inclusive safety net. We also recognize that more is needed to meaningfully address the health and well being of all Californians. 

As we head into our second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Californians continue to face deep hardship. Black, Latinx, and immigrant communities have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, bearing the brunt of high infection rates, job losses, and inequitable access to life-saving public benefit programs. 

We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Newsom Administration to secure much-needed investments in food and nutrition programs that will mitigate the alarming, persistent rates of food insecurity across our state.

Below are a number of highlights from the Governor’s budget proposal.

Food and Nutrition 

Food4All

The Budget Act of 2021 included $30 million in funding for planning and system automation required to expand CFAP, a first step towards Food4All. In an unprecedented move, the Governor’s budget proposal  builds on this investment by committing $35.2 million to expand CFAP benefits to California immigrants ages 55 and older who are ineligible for federally funded CalFresh benefits based solely on immigration status. We applaud the Governor for making this investment. We continue to work with our cosponsor, the California Immigrant Policy Center, and the Food4All coalition to ensure all Californians have access to food assistance. No exceptions. No exclusions. To sign up for Food4All updates, visit our Food4All campaign action page

School Meals 

Building on historic commitments made in the 2021-22 state budget, the Governor’s budget proposal provides $596 million to offer two free meals per day to all K-12 public school students in the 2022-23 school year. The budget proposal affirms the need to maximize federal funding for school meals by reiterating the requirement that eligible schools participate in federal universal school meal provisions starting in the 2022-23 school year. The Governor’s budget proposal also includes $450 million one-time funding to upgrade school kitchen equipment and $3 million one-time funding for the School Breakfast and Summer Meal Start-Up and Expansion Grant Program. 

We applaud the Governor’s commitment to child nutrition and the recognition of school meals as a critical tool for education and health. We look forward to working with the Legislature, the Newsom Administration, and stakeholders throughout California to ensure that state investments in school nutrition are sufficient to meet the needs of every kid, every day.

Emergency Food 

The Governor’s budget proposal includes a $50 million one-time investment for the CalFood program to mitigate increased food needs among Californians with low income facing food insecurity throughout the state. This investment will help food banks purchase California-grown foods. For further details see the California Association of Food Banks’ budget statement. 

Safety Net and Income Support 

CalFresh, Department of Social Services (CDSS)

The budget proposal allocates $40.7 billion ($16.1 billion General Fund) for the Department of Social Services (CDSS) to operate programs like CalFresh. 

Rainy Day Fund

For the second year in a row, the state comes with strong revenues and total reserves of $34.6 million. As part of these reserves, the proposed budget includes $20.9 billion as mandated under Proposition 2 (Rainy Day Fund) for fiscal emergencies. The Rainy Day Fund is now at its constitutional limit requiring $2.4 billion to be dedicated for infrastructure investments in 2022-23. For further details see the California Budget & Policy Center’s budget analysis section on revenues.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) / State Supplementary Payment (SSP)

The proposed budget falls short with no additional investments for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and State Supplementary Payment (SSP). SSP was cut to a minimum during the last recession and grants have not been fully restored. The Budget Act of 2021 included a substantial increase to SSP grants and there was a commitment to further increase SSP grants in January 2024, if funding was allocated in the 2023-24 state budget. The budget proposal does not include an increase to the state portion of SSI/SSP grants. This means that SSI/SSP grants will continue to remain inadequate and not meet the Elder Economic Index and Federal Poverty Level as outlined in California’s Master Plan for Aging

COVID-19 Response 

The budget proposal includes $2.7 billion total funds to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. This funding will go to expand state testing capacity, increase vaccination rates, and support health care workers. Of this overall funding, $1.4 billion is for immediate action to address the increase in COVID cases and its impact on the health of Californians. These investments are crucial as the surge in COVID cases continues to be especially (and inequitably) detrimental to Californians with low income. 

Child Care

The budget proposal maintains a commitment made in last year’s budget to restore state supplemental funding for meals served through the federal child care food program. But the proposal fails to allocate enough funding to pay child care providers a fair and just rate. As a result, child care providers — disproportionately women of color — would continue to receive less state funding than public schools for serving the same high quality meal. We look forward to working with state advocates, the Legislature, and the Administration to extend a more equitable reimbursement rate to child care providers. We also urge the Governor to build on last year’s historic investment in school meals for K-12 students by extending free meals to all children in child care. To learn more about child care meals, visit our Food with Care campaign action page.

Health Care

In a monumental step, the budget proposal removes immigration status as a barrier to full-scope Medi-Cal for income-eligible Californians ages 26-49 by January 1, 2024 – closing the gap and finishing the job of Health4All. Specifically, the budget proposal allocates $819.3 million in 2023-24 and $2.7 billion annually to provide all income-eligible immigrants with full-scope Medi-Cal. This makes California the first state to provide healthcare to all residents with low income, regardless of immigration status. We gratefully acknowledge the courageous community members, legislative leaders, and state and local advocates who have worked tirelessly for Health4All. For more details, see the California Immigrant Policy Center’s Health4All sign-up page.

The budget proposal also takes additional steps to improve health care affordability, including reducing premiums for 500,000 children, pregnant women, and working disabled adults participating in Medi-Cal. 

Homelessness and Housing

Housing costs are a significant driver of poverty in California. The lack of affordable housing and the growing number of unhoused individuals in our state is an indisputable crisis that disproportionately affects Californians who are Black, Latinx, veterans, and LGBTQ+. The Budget Act of 2021 included a $12 billion allotment for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 fiscal years to address homelessness. The Governor’s budget proposal includes an additional $2 billion for two years. These additional funds would focus on two issues: homeless encampments and immediate support services for individuals with behavioral health needs. For further details see the California Budget & Policy Center’s budget analysis section on Homelessness and Housing

What’s Next?

The Legislature has begun holding budget hearings to discuss the Governor’s January budget proposal and to begin crafting the Budget Act of 2022. 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.

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 

For more information, contact Betzabel Estudillo at  

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