On Thursday, May 14th, Governor Jerry Brown released his revised budget proposal for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Despite a rosy economic picture with $6.7 billion in additional revenues, the revised budget does not restore any of the devastating cuts made during the recession to health and human services programs on which millions of Californians rely. The majority of the additional revenues ($5.5 billion) will go to K-12 education, but the remaining $1.2 billion will be split between the Rainy Day Fund and paying down debts.
Just as our state endures an historic drought, millions of Californians also face extreme needs and can’t afford to wait for that rainy day! Locking these funds away won’t help Medi-Cal recipients who are struggling to find a doctor because of low reimbursement rates or can’t access dental care due to limited dental benefits; or those on CalWORKS whose benefits were cut so severely that they remain in deep poverty. The budget proposal also fails to include funding for Health for All legislation to extend coverage to the over one million undocumented immigrants left out of the Affordable Care Act. Senator Holly Mitchell put it best when she said, “The budget is not simply a math problem…The Legislature has options to use a significant portion of the funds to meet human needs.”
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Today is Cesar Chavez Day, a celebration of a man who helped organize California’s farmworkers, a largely immigrant population, in a movement to achieve basic rights. Four decades later, that work continues, as immigrants and advocates across California, and the country, work to secure the right to health care.
Last November, we witnessed a victory for the immigrant rights movement when President Barack Obama issued executive actions expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and creating a new program, Deferred Action for Parents U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). These actions allowed millions of undocumented immigrants across the country to stay without fear of deportation. It also opened the door to public health care programs for millions.