Californians are hard at work raising families, putting food on the table, and building our communities. But millions of Californians with low incomes struggle to afford basic needs every day. And this was true long before rising gas prices, inflation, and the pandemic all hit hard for Californians.
Now, state leaders are rightfully feeling the pressure and urgency to provide Californians relief, rolling out budget proposals to use the state’s strong revenues to provide direct assistance to individuals and families. Policymakers’ proposals so far miss the mark on providing meaningful assistance targeted to Californians who most need relief. Data show clearly it’s Californians with the lowest incomes who are being stretched the most.
Six in 10 Californians with incomes under $35,000 reported struggling to pay basic expenses last month. And the problem is not just gas prices, but the rising cost of food, rent, and most other essentials.
Most state and federal pandemic aid has ended, and people with low incomes are trying to pay for the rising cost of living with less money. Now that families are no longer getting monthly federal Child Tax Credit payments, nearly 1.7 million California children are at risk of falling back into poverty or deeper into poverty this year.
This is where state leaders can step in with relief that is thoughtful, targeted, meaningful, and efficient for Californians with low incomes. And they can build upon proven paths for providing targeted assistance — the Golden State Stimulus, California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), and Young Child Tax Credit, to name a few.
The Governor’s May Revision Explained
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Join us on May 20 as our Budget Center experts explore what the governor’s budget proposals mean for Californians with low incomes who we know are most struggling to make ends meet.
Last year, California achieved an incredible feat, getting relief out to millions of people with low and moderate incomes through the Golden State Stimulus, and particularly targeting millions of CalEITC recipients. This was paired with Golden State Grants for CalWORKs families and individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income to reach many people who don’t have earnings and wouldn’t have received the Golden State Stimulus through the state’s income tax system.
Now, policymakers can build upon what’s worked using the tax system and existing safety net programs to provide more relief to people with lower incomes or to people supporting larger families. And research shows direct cash support and tax credits are proven, effective, and respectful strategies for helping people avoid poverty and food hardship and address basic needs.
As state leaders are eager to both use some of California’s strong revenues and respond to demands for relief, the next steps are clear. California can’t afford to waste state resources providing unneeded assistance to those with higher incomes, assets, and wealth. Instead, policymakers have a responsibility to provide targeted relief using proven paths to the children, families, and individuals blocked from the opportunity to thrive in our communities.