The Associated Press released this article yesterday about California making deep cuts to its welfare programs and I couldn’t help but notice how each new agency picked it up and spun it a bit differently. News10.net, for example, only gave it four paragraphs and with little statistical information or specifics. The Contra Costa County Times, on the the other hand, provided over 30 paragraphs with many statistics and specifics about the cuts.
At any rate, here are some numbers that caught my eye…
The state has one-eighth of the nation’s population but one-third of all welfare recipients. California is one of the few states that send welfare checks for children when their parents are no longer eligible. About three-quarters of California’s 1.5 million welfare recipients are children 18 and younger.
California will spend $6 billion…this fiscal year on its welfare programs, or roughly 7 percent of a general fund budget that has shrunk by $17.5 billion over the past three years.
Where to begin, right? 7% seems reasonable, but then 6 billion seems like a ton o’cash to keep folks treading water. Is this temporary, “just til you get back on your feet” type assistance or is this a lifestyle choice?
Some more quick facts:
- The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKS) program is the state’s largest cash grant program in 2011’s $6 billion welfare services budget.
- In July, 1.4 million people applied for CalWORKS. Of those, 1.1 million were 18 or younger.
- Cal-Learn, which helps dropout teen parents complete their educations has been suspended for a year. It cost $43.6 million in 2010.
- CalFresh, California’s food stamp program, had 3.7 million applicants in July and cost $559 million in 2010.
- 1.3 million people received $750 million in Supplemental Security Income and state supplementary payments.
- $380 million was spent on in-home supportive services for 426,000 people.
My guess is, like everything, the folks that abuse programs like these ruin it for those that use them to stay afloat while they look for work. So, it seems this is more of an accountability issue than anything. Not exactly a revolutionary observation, I know.