California Needs a Family Recovery Budget


Posted on 21 June 2010

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By Leticia Alejandrez
California Family Resource Association

This month, I spoke up for the California Dream.  The organization I lead, the California Family Resource Association, joined nearly 120 statewide and local organizations in calling for a Family Recovery Budget to help all families, our economy, and State get back on track after this great recession.  We all oppose the Governor’s devastating May Revise budget, which includes only cuts to the very jobs and investments that built California families and communities, while simultaneously failing to provide a balanced, common-sense solution to the state’s multi-billion dollar budget woes.    

Family resource centers --- like 28 in Sacramento, over 100 in Los Angeles, and 20 in Bakersfield – are on the front lines of this crisis.  We see families facing foreclosure and unemployment, and basic needs like food and shelter.  We help kids in need of glasses and grandmothers in need of home care.  All across the state, every day, our network of 300 centers, is doing what we can to keep the California Dream alive.  One of California’s greatest assets is families, and California will thrive only when families are thriving.   

We can all agree that California is facing a serious, on-going crisis that requires honest, objective and practical solutions.   The families we see every day can’t afford another year of dreadful attacks on California’s jobs, health, and human services, that have occurred with alarming frequency under the administration of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But based on what we’ve seen in the May Revise budget, the Governor is missing the reality of average California families. What California needs is a Family Recovery Budget that can help get our families back to work and helps California pull itself out of the financial abyss.  

In signing on to the letter to the Governor, we acknowledged that difficult times call for difficult decisions. But the Governor’s proposals offer no tenable solutions for California – failing on two critical fronts to protect our families and economy from further ruin.  It fails to protect our core investments in human capital that have built our State and our people, and it ignores targeted revenue solutions -- especially for the corporations that have received tax breaks in recent years -- that would support jobs and investment in California.

So July 1 is fast approaching.   

As tough as times are, California can’t afford another rapid-fire budget “solution,” simply because the Constitutional deadline for passing a budget has once again come and gone. Time and again we’ve seen last-minute budget deals thrown together simply to get something done– with the results often times as bad, or even worse, than what was previously proposed.  Instead, we need to take a more thoughtful approach; while also working for the long-term budget reform needed that will enable legislators to deliver an on-time budget in years to come.   

The reality is that California can’t afford another cuts-only budget,  especially after more than $20 billion in cuts over the last four years.  Indeed, another 360,000 jobs would be eliminated by the Governor’s budget, according to a new study from the UC Berkeley Labor Center.  We all have to recognize the economic reality demonstrated by Family Resource Centers every day: our health and human services are an investment in California’s overall economic resuscitation and continuing bright future.   

Thankfully, there are alternatives out there.  Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate have put modest, targeted revenue solutions on the table to protect jobs as well as health and human services. These targeted solutions offer $8.9 billion in revenues for California, and would prevent another cuts-only budget disaster for both families and our economy.

As a statewide organization dedicated to building and promoting strong families and strong communities throughout California – we unequivocally reject the Governor’s May Revision as an unsustainable and disappointing failure.  There is a real opportunity right now to put forth a Family Recovery Budget for California and help invest and protect our safety net, create and maintain jobs and incorporate targeted revenue solutions and much-needed Federal funds for the relief of our families.  We need the Governor to provide all California families a path to get back on our feet and the chance to once again pursue our California Dreams.

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Leticia Alejandrez is Executive Director of California Family Resource Association, a statewide membership association of organizations and individuals that serve children and families. Our purpose is to advocate for the programs, policies and resources that help families and communities thrive and succeed. We also focus on building the capacity of our member organizations and linking them to one another. For more information, visit www.californiafamilyresource.org. California Family Resource Association is also a member of the Health and Human Services Network of California.

Everyone suffers if the state continues spending more money than it receives. Certainly the poor, ill and children must be protected, but the legislature must do more than just make cuts. The cuts should be focused: that is, tell Social Services, education and all other departments that any cuts must be made at the adminstrative level and perks. This can be done if the legislature would insist that all governmental entities must put a ceiling (E.G., $100,000)on salaries they offer. No more million dollar salaries for coaches at UC; no more salaries of over %600,000 for UC administrators; no more local superintendents of schools receiving over $200,000;no more police and prison guards over $100,000, etc.

Chevron gouged $24 billions in excessive profits in 2008, as per www.tyrannyofoil.com. Schwarzenegger should put an excessive profts tax on these profits, instead of protecting the oil corporations from fair taxation, then, there would be sufficient public funds for all the vulnerable, people programs. Big business lost the fight to eliminate domestic violence funding, so now they are coming back with a vengeance. There is no funding provision for battered women shelters in the May Revise. Schwarzee picks on the most vulnerable, and not on corporate tax "deadbeats."