Editor's Notes

Schwarzenegger said that "employment remains the biggest source of concern" as the state emerges from the Great Recession. Then he moved to guarantee more unemployment


The governor of California released his last official state budget proposal May 14, just a few weeks before Mayor Gavin Newsom releases what might be his last official city budget proposal. The guv's is truly ugly, so bad it's almost hard to imagine what would happen if it passes. The mayor's may not be a whole lot different.

Here's why Gov. Schwarzenegger's budget is so hypocritical. In his message, Schwarzenegger said that "employment remains the biggest source of concern" as the state emerges from the Great Recession. Then he moved to guarantee more unemployment.

I remember when a Democratic Assembly Member from San Francisco first proposed the idea that would later become the philosophical basis for the CALWORKS program. Art Agnos, who went on to serve as mayor of this city, suggested that it wasn't such a bad idea to make welfare recipients work — as long as the state offered education, training, and, most important, affordable child care. A lot of us complained about it, warning that it would never get fully funded; it costs a lot up front to provide the services that allow long-term unemployed to transition into the workforce. Ultimately, however, most states have now created some sort of welfare-to-work program.

Now Schwarzenegger wants that completely eliminated. Along with all state-subsidized child care. So how are low-income people with kids supposed to get a job?

They're not. They're supposed to become a permanent underclass in a rich state. That's exactly what the governor is talking about — destroying opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people, keeping them from joining in the productivity boom we're going to need to get the economy going again, forcing them to live a third-world existence, at a massive cost to the state's future. All to avoid modest taxes on the rich. If that's not class warfare, I don't know what is.

So how are we going to respond in San Francisco? Will Newsom's budget — the one he will have to answer for as he runs for lieutenant governor — be cuts only? Or does he have the courage to tell the truth — that the only way the state and the city are ever going to emerge from this recession is if the folks on top of the economic pyramid chip in a little more? Well, I asked his press person, Tony Winnicker, and here's what he said: "The mayor's budget will not rely on taxes to achieve balance."



Here is some information on CalWORKs. First of all, everyone in Sacramento knows that the program is not going to be eliminated. Even the Senate Republican leader said it isn't going away. It will, however, be restructured. Currently it works like this: there is a federal, 60-month time limit on cash welfare from federal TANF funds given to the state as a block grant. A welfare recipient who is federally eligible is paid with federal money. Every month that cash is received, the a month on the federal 60-month clock "ticks". There are no exceptions, no "clock-stoppers". You get wefare; the clock "ticks".

Now, there is a parallel clock, the "CalWORKs clock". This clock also has a 60-month limit, but this clock can "stop", or "untick" when one of many, many, MANY exemptions occur. So, while the federal clock goes on "ticking", the state clock may stop and start. When the state clock is stopped, the client is still getting cash, but the month doesn't count toward the 60-month limit.

Here is what costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars: When a client uses up her federally funded 60 months, she is no longer given cash paid with federal funds. She's "timed out" and the feds no longer pay cash to her or her kids. She's had 5 years and the feds say she's done.

California, however, has that CalWORKs timeclock. The client may have had one or more of the exemptions that cause her CalWORKs clock to stop, or "untick". So, even though her federal 60 months are used up, she may still have years more time on the state clock. These months of cash aid are paid with STATE dollars.

What we may see this year is the end of the state clock. If you want welfare, you're going to have to be federally eligible. That means a strict 5 year limit. And it means that if a parent willfully refuses to train for work (classes, training programs, etc) then that parent's case will be closed both for her and her kids. (Currently California pays for the kids' welfare with state dollars even when the parent simply refuses to do anything. The state pays the kids welfare until they are 18, which could be up to 15 years or so.

We can't afford this anymore.

Posted by Guest on May. 19, 2010 @ 8:44 am

Guest, whoever you are - parents are already sanctioned when they refuse to do anything. Even criminal law provides for exemptions or extenuating circumstances. We are talking families with young children here. In CalWORKS - exemptions include domestic violence, no jobs available after repeated search, if parent has child under one year and there is no child care available, etc... I wish there is a time limit on poverty but two years or even 5 years do not quite do it. We have to recognize that we do have a revenue problem. We cannot have a cuts only budget. State budgets are about values and priorities and not just about money. When the Governor chose corporate tax credits worth $2B over protecting vulnerable populations - that does not reflect our values as Californian's. We need to fix tax loopholes, postpose the $2 billion tax credits until there is proof that the big corporations have created new jobs. We have 12% unemployment rate. How can a mother with young children surmount that? Many of the families on welfare are headed by single mothers. Families on welfare are already in extreme poverty. Dont push 1.4 million children to utter destitution. Create smart budget solutions.

Posted by Maria Luz Torre on May. 20, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

there are no jobs, on the other hand we are told that we need to open the borders to people who want to work?

Which is it?

Posted by Mr Matlock on May. 20, 2010 @ 12:57 pm