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Governor’s Revised Budget Sees Gains for Mental Health; Early Education

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May 17, 2018

On May 11, Governor Brown released the May Revision to his proposed 2018-2019 state budget, which includes billions more in revenues than he originally projected in January.

Citing strong economic growth and a low unemployment rate, the Governor is now allocating an additional $8 billion to build up the state’s “rainy day” fund, pay down debt, and invest in infrastructure, setting the stage for solid financial footings in preparation for the next economic recession.

A welcome and notable change is the increase in funding for mental health services. Earlier this month, the California bishops released Hope and Healing: A Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of California on Caring for those who Suffer from Mental Illness Addressed to All Catholics and People of Goodwill to address the mental health epidemic. The CCC is encouraged to see the Governor responding with additional funds for outreach and treatment for homeless persons with mental illness, and a one-time influx of funds to support graduate programs for mental health professionals.

The revised budget also includes more than $108 million in new money for early childhood education. Most of that money — $104 million — is set aside to expand the number of daycare slots for low-income families, and $4 million will provide cost-of-living raises for childcare and preschool workers.  In addition, $11.8 million was made available for training pre-K through 3rd-grade teachers in early math education and expanding math education generally for young students.  The revised budget keeps intact a $27 million pilot program from the original January budget that will fund home visits for low-income new parents.

Also of great note is that the newly revised budget extends eligibility for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalETIC) to young adults and seniors. The CCC has been a vocal advocate and supporter of this tax credit. The expansion of eligibility will help assist those who are most in need.

The May Revise currently does not include the $10 million in funding that Assemblymembers Wendy Carrillo (D-East Los Angeles) and Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) have requested in their Assembly Bill 1862. The funds would be used to provide immigration services for persons who are facing legal complications from the Trump Administration’s termination of the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) program in March. The program protected refugees from El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras who had sought refuge in the U.S. from their civil war-torn nations.

According to Gráinne McEvoy, an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at Trinity College, Dublin, who is currently writing a book on American Catholic social thought and immigration policy in the 20th century, “Church leaders believe that this decision [eliminating TPS] is neither a reasonable exercise of the government’s right to control migration, nor is it in the interests of the American people.” You can read more on Catholic social teaching and TPS in her piece here.

Approximately 55,000 TPS recipients live in California – more than any other state. While the California budget does not directly address this issue, its failure to do so highlights the incredible importance of advocacy measures. The CCC is supporting AB 1862, so please keep watch for a future Action Alert. 

In a surprising move unbeknownst to most, Governor Brown has requested $100 million to build a California Indian Heritage Center in West Sacramento. With the canonization of St. Serra, the California Catholic Conference pledged to review how museums at missions under diocesan control portray California Native Americans.  The addition of funds for the museum and such efforts as the CCC review will paint a more accurate picture of those who lived in the Golden State prior to European colonization.  (See related story on the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ new Native American protocols.)