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Governor Puts Welfare And Kids Health Insurance On Chopping Block

May 28, 2009

Deep cuts to health and human services are being proposed for California, with more to come on Friday. Faced with a $24 billion deficit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest request would eliminate the state's main welfare program, CalWORKs, which provides grants to low-income parents. The governor also proposes ending the Healthy Families program, which provides health insurance for one million low-income children.

In all, it's an additional $3 billion in budget cuts. Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, says it will prompt the most profound rollback of health coverage in the state's history.

"California would be the only state in the nation that doesn't cover the low-income children eligible for Healthy Families. It would have ripple effects throughout our healthcare system and our economy."

Wright points out that eliminating the programs means the state will lose millions of dollars in federal funds, as well.

"That's why some of these cuts really are irrational and reckless - and other alternatives, including revenues, need to be considered."

The cuts could be avoided, Wright insists, if the governor would take a more balanced approach that includes raising money - but Schwarzenegger has said tax increases are off the table. The governor also says he realizes the cuts will hurt families, but claims he has no choice.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA