If Gov. Jerry Brown has his way, then California’s welfare-to-work program (CalWORKS) will see a pretty sizable cut to an already hobbled initiative to help unemployed workers get back on their feet.
Under CalWORKS back in ’06, before the recession hit, a family of three was eligible to receive $752 a month for 60 months. Now families are eligible for just $638 a month and only for 48 months. Not only that, but eligibility for CalWORKS grants run well below both the federal poverty limit and Self-Sufficiency Standards for hard-hit counties in California.
And now we could see even more cuts digging into the program.
Let’s face it: many Americans, not just Californians, are quickly depleting their unemployment benefits. They are turning to programs like CalWORKS to help them develop skills and assist them as they search for decent jobs.
In fact, 86 percent of Californian moms and dads enter the CalWORKS program without a diploma in vocational training or even high school. In 2011 alone, CalWORKS had put around 3,000 parents in jobs that allow them to earn more than $11.69 an hour – effectively turning them into consumers and taxpayers that fuel our recovery from the recession.1
And here you have proposals to actually cut into that program and deny many the opportunity to improve their lot in life.
Yes, we need to find some way to keep state budgets in check, but taking away aid programs like these is one of the biggest mistakes our government can make – a move that would drive many single-mother families into homelessness at a time when unemployment remains high.
Sure, savings can be made in a few short years following 2012, but the social and economic benefits of properly funding these programs far outweigh the initial costs.
If the government is so keen on keeping its budgets in check, then perhaps it should close tax loopholes that banks and corporations exploit to avoid having to pay what the average Jane and Joe has to pay to our government.