May 13, 2016 - Governor Jerry Brown released the “May Revise” to his budget today. The revision incorporates more accurate budget revenue and expenditure projections to sharpen the accuracy of the Proposed Budget he released in January. Edward “Ned” Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference offered the following remarks:
“No single document illustrates the priorities and challenges of California like the State Budget. In his newly revised Budget, Governor Brown proposes some modest improvements in two important education areas – supporting our teachers and expanding pre-K. But he also fails in some very critical areas – caring for people at the end of life and aiding our families who are struggling economically in an uneven recovery,” said Dolejsi.
“The Governor and the people of California must make choices. We can all appreciate that. But when California prioritizes providing physician-assisted suicide assistance over adequately funding other options – such as palliative care – for those low-income neighbors who are on subsidized Medi-Cal healthcare something in our priorities is terribly askew.
“The Governor’s Budget calls for buying the drugs needed for 443 patients to end their life with the assistance of their doctors, yet calls for only nine of them to receive psychiatric evaluations. The End-of-Life Option Act – which received wide-spread, bi-partisan opposition – is not even in effect yet and the Governor is enabling its expansion among some of the most vulnerable people in our State.
“The California Catholic Conference (CCC) is committed to seeking improvements in healthcare access so that no Californian feels that ending his or her life with the help of their physician is the correct choice for them.
“Two aspects of the May Revise seek to fund a pair of legislative measures in which the CCC is advocating support - a $10 million General Fund one‑time investment for grants to California postsecondary institutions to improve upon or develop four‑year integrated teacher credential programs (AB 1756) and a one‑time $2.5 million Proposition 98 General Fund for the re-establishment of the California Center on Teaching Careers (SB 915). “CalTeach” is aimed at strengthening statewide recruitment of qualified and capable individuals into the teaching profession.
“In January, the Governor proposed adding 4,000 full-day slots in the State Preschool Program at a cost of $33.6 million. Now he is suggesting spending an additional $13.5 million for 2,500 more part-day slots aimed primarily at children with special needs. Yet that still leaves around 33,000 low-income 4 year olds without access to preschool. CCC supports the increase in slots as long as parents’ rights are protected and faith-based programs included.
“The Governor’s revised budget still proposes to consolidate state‑subsidized early learning programs – which includes Transitional Kindergarten Programs -- into a $1.6 billion Early Education Block Grant. Along with other early childhood advocates and legislative leaders, the CCC continues to oppose this block grant which would create uncertainty for the future of our state’s transitional kindergarten and diminishes the funding that should be dedicated exclusively for other early learning programs.
“While the Governor has not yet seen fit to eliminate the Maximum Family Grant is his May Revise, the Conference is encouraged by the commitment of other state leaders to do so.
“In a misguided effort to limit family size of those receiving assistance, the state of California instituted the CalWORKs Maximum Family Grant (MFG), which actually creates an untenable situation for a pregnant woman—stretch the current CalWORKs grant to accommodate another child in the family or possibly consider aborting her unborn baby. It would be in the best interest of the state to grant a pregnant woman, who would qualify for CalWORKs upon the birth of her child, cash assistance throughout her pregnancy to ensure their well-being and prevent them falling into extreme poverty.
“The Maximum Family Grant is not a child- or family-friendly policy and should be changed immediately.
“The California Catholic Conference remains in strong opposition to expansions and promotion of the physician-assisted suicide law and will continue to work for improved healthcare instead. We remain in strong support for further expanding access to quality, affordable early childhood education for those most in need. And we will work to promote care for our families and those most in need during difficult economic times.