CalNonprofits Articles

After years of last-minute drama, huge fights and even government shut-downs, this year's state budget emerged so quietly you might even have missed it. Here are two strikingly different assessments:

A.  “This budget strikes a responsible balance between strengthening our long-term fiscal foundation and investing right now in the economy of today and the workforce of tomorrow.” Senate leader Kevin León (Democrat, East Los Angeles)

B.  "This budget doesn't do anything to stop punishing poor children." Mike Herald, legislative advocate with the Western Center on Law and Poverty

We recap the highlights for you below. Decide which of the above two viewpoints you agree with more!

Tax credits for low and middle-income families

One of CalNonprofits’ priorities made it into the budget: the creation of a state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low and middle-income families in California so that they can keep more of what they earn. The credit will lift incomes for approximately 825,000 low-income California workers; it's an effective policy tool for reducing poverty and for improving the communities where our member organizations work and live. We were pleased to work with United Ways of California and other nonprofits in the promotion of the EITC. 

Yay! The arts got a big win, with $8.3 million allocated for the California Arts Council, the state agency that makes grants to nonprofit arts organizations.  Better still, this means that the new floor for annual arts spending from the general fund will be $8.3 million instead of the previous $1.1 million base (which was an amazing 24 cents per resident!). Years of inadequate funding over the years have put California near the bottom for per-capita arts spending.

Beyond that, it’s not so easy to figure out what values are reflected in this year’s budget. More highlights:

• Childcare and preschool: Increased funds for state-funded childcare and preschool, but the Legislature originally wanted to create twice as many slots.

• State colleges and universities: Increased funds for California’s public universities, but in return, they must increase in-state enrollment.

• Healthcare: $40 million for healthcare for children in low-income families, regardless of immigration status. California is the largest state to offer this coverage through the Medi-Cal program. But NOT included: $82 million to raise payments to doctors, dentists and providers in Medi-Cal, which will instead be considered during a special session on health care funding.

• Seniors and people with disabilities: The budget conference committee’s proposed $10 per month grant increase to low-income seniors and people with disabilities did not make it into the final budget.

So, California nonprofits: what's your take on this budget?

By Nancy Berlin, CalNonprofits Policy Director

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