Democratic lawmakers have been advocating for Governor Jerry Brown to include more money for state subsidized child care in his budget revision. The Legislative Women’s Caucus has called for an investment of at least $600 million this year. But Brown says another recession is likely around the corner and the state has to consider ongoing costs.
"I don’t want to get caught in the jaws of the persistent fiscal instability of the state government of California," he says. "There it is."
Women’s Caucus Chair Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson says ensuring children are well cared for and educated will help the state’s economy in the long run.
"While we are trying to be as fiscally prudent as possible," she says, "we also have to recognize that within that prudence we also need to look to the future and to see what it’s going to take to continue the economic growth and well-being of the state and education is number one."
The budget revision projects K-12 schools will receive an additional $5.5 billion under Proposition 98, which mandates education spending. Jackson argues there is precedent to use some of that money for child care. The service was covered by Prop 98 until 2011 when the Legislature removed it.
Pete Woiwode is with the California Partnership, an advocacy group. He supports Brown’s proposal to create a state Earned Income Tax Credit. The credit could help two million of California’s poorest people. But Woiwode says more needs to be done.
"The social safety net has been absolutely tattered," he says. "Today is a good first step to acknowledge that poverty is a problem in California. And now we need a long-view vision of how we actually get to a robust social safety net."
Woiwode says California needs to repeal CalWorks' Maximum Family Grant rule, ensure all undocumented immigrants have health care and make sure people who can’t work receive more support from the state.
The Legislature has until mid-June to finalize a budget.