California Budget Crisis:
* SSI/SSP Cuts - Budget Related Language
* Outlined In “Trailer Bill” Language
* Cuts Likely Under Any Budget Agreement
* State COLA for SSI/SSP Cut 16 Times Since 1991
Budget Stand-off In State Senate Continues – State Senate to Meet on Floor Tonight At 6 PM – Assembly Meets At 4:30 PM But Will Likely Push Back That Time
SACRAMENTO, CALIF (CDCAN) [Updated 02/16/09 4:05 PM (Pacific Time) ] - While the budget agreement remains stalled – with both houses are back in the State Capitol today (February 16), many details, including specific budget related legislative language (called “trailer bills” because it is connected to and follows or trails the main budget bill), that make the changes in existing State laws necessary to make either budget reductions, program changes, fund shifting and borrowing and raising taxes and other revenues.
The State Senate pushed back its 11:00 AM meeting today to later this evening 6:00 PM (changed from 4 PM), though that can change. The Assembly also delayed its floor session, and plans to meet at 4:30 PM also today. The actual floor session times are subject to constant change – and will likely be delayed further if there is not the votes in the State Senate to pass the budget agreement. Senate Democrats are holding a caucus at 5:30 PM today.
However, because the budget shortfall is so huge – projected at over $41 billion and growing by the end of the 2009-2010 State Budget year that ends June 30, 2010, certain cuts – not yet final until the main budget bills are passed by the State Senate, are almost certain to be part of any budget agreement that is eventually approved, including cuts to federal and state funded SSI/SSP (Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payment grants to the lowest income persons with disabilities, the blind and low income seniors) and cuts to regional centers and the state’s “welfare to work” program, called CalWORKS. The CalWORKS program includes thousands of children and parents with mental health needs, disabilities and other special needs.
One program that the Governor wanted eliminated this year, the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), has survived in the current budget agreement. CAPI provides state level grants (at the level of the SSP grant) to persons with disabilities, the blind and seniors who are legal immigrants who do not qualify for the federal SSI program.
Budget Related (Trailer Bill) Language Impacting SSI/SSP
Budget related (trailer bill) language impacting the three reductions to SSI/SSP, while not absolutely final until the main budget bills are approved by the State Senate, will likely remain in any budget agreement that emerges today or eventually in the coming week if the stalemate continues That is because, like in the case of the regional center cuts, in order to win Republican votes in the legislature, deep cuts in spending have to be part of any budget agreement – including those in several health and human service programs – where growth in caseloads and use of services (utilization) is growing faster than the current level of revenues and the overall State population growth.
The new major cuts to the SSI/SSP program are significant and include cuts that will take effect this budget year (mid year cuts) and also during the 2009-2010 State Budget year that begi ns July 1, 2009. One of the three SSI/SSP cuts is almost certain not to happen if, as nearly everyone believes, enough money comes to California from the economic stimulus bill that Congress passed last week (President Obama will sign that bill into law Tuesday, February 17). The impact of the cut
However, the other SSI/SSP cuts will remain, but as big as they are – and the cuts previously to SSI/SSP, will be coming under a change in the State Constitution that would impose a strict or “hard” spending cap – if approved by voters in a special election likely to be held on May 19, 2009.
That spending cap could impose more significant reductions to many health and human service programs including to people who receive SSI/SP, that could make it difficult to rescind certain cuts and changes or require major new permanent reductions in addition to the ones that will be imposed this and next year.
Some key points of the legislative language that implements the cuts to SSI/SSP that CDCAN previously reported (CDCAN will release later today specifics of budget related language impacting Medi-CAl, In-Home Supportive Services, and other areas critical to people with disabilities, mental health needs, seniors, low income families. CDCAN Report #053-2009 covered regional center cuts and related budget “trailer bill” language.
SSI/SSP – JANUARY 2009 FEDERAL COST OF LIVING
* Withholds (cuts) the cost of living money from the federal government that increased, on January 1, 2009, the SSI/SSP grant level, and rolls back the grant level to what it was on December 1, 2008. (the state achieves this cut by lowering the SSP – the state funded part of the SS1/SSP grant – by the amount of the federal cost of living increase money.)
* This reduction takes effect May 1, 2009 (it is not retroactive – and the May 2009 date is meant to provide time for the Department of Social Services to send out the proper notifications. However this date could change if the budget agreement does not happen soon.
* Not mentioned (so far) is the cost of living money that comes from the federal government, scheduled for January 1, 2010 for federal portion of the SSI/SSP
2008-2009 State Budget Year: Cut of $79.8 million (State general funds) during this budget year, beginning May 1, 2009
2009-2010 State Budget Year: Cut of $487.3 million (State general funds) during this budget year
SSI/SSP – JUNE 2010 STATE COST OF LIVING
Suspends (cuts) the cost of living money owed due June 1, 2010 for the state portion of the SSI/SSP grant.
2008-2009 State Budget Year: this cut doesn’t impact this budget year
2009-2010 State Budget Year: Cut of $27 million (State general funds) during this budget year
2010-2011 State Budget Year: Cut of $323.9 million (State general funds) during this budget year
* This will be the 16th time since 1991 that the State will suspend the State cost of living money owed to persons with disabilities, the blind and low income seniors on SSI/SSP for the entire year or delayed giving it for four months (2005) or delayed giving it for 6 months (2003). .
* The suspended the state cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the state portion (SSP) of the SSI/SSP grant for the entire years of 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and, assuming final budget agreement approval, 2010. In addition to those years, the State suspended the state cost of living for the first five months in 2003, and the first three months in 2005.
* In addition to those cuts, the State several times also withheld the federal cost of living money owed to people with disabilities, mental health needs and seniors on SSI/SSP.
SSI/SSP – 2.3% CUT TO GRANT LEVEL (WON’T HAPPEN IF ENOUGH FEDERAL ECONOMIC STIMULUS MONEY COMES)
* Cuts the SSI/SSP grants (the grant level as it was on December 1, 2008) by 2.3%, However this cut will NOT take effect if there is enough funds that come from the recently passed federal economic stimulus bill
* It is nearly certain that sufficient level of funds will come to California so that this specific cut – and also cuts to In-Home Supportive Services and one of the cuts to CalWORKS (the reduction that would cut the CalWORKS grant) would not happen. Other cuts to SSI/SSP (and CalWORKS) however are not part of the list of programs and services that will not be cut if there is enough federal economic stimulus money – though that does not mean there cannot be an effort to expand that list.
* This rollback in grant levels would reduce the monthly grant for individuals by $20 and the monthly grant for couples by $35 each month.
* Exempt from this reduction are persons living in State Supplemental Program (SSP) living arrangements for Non-Medical Out-of-Home Care and Title XIX medical facilities, and also those persons receiving a Restaurant Meal Allowance.
2008-2009 State Budget Year: this cut doesn’t impact this budget year
2009-2010 State Budget Year: Cut of $267.8 million (State general funds) during this budget year IF it happened
CDCAN Note: This reduction is part of the “trigger cuts” that will NOT happen if enough funds come to California from the economic stimulus bill, which nearly everyone believes it will.
SSI/SSP – ROLLBACK OF GRANTS TO FEDERAL MINIMUM
Budget agreement, as it stands now as of 2/16/09, REJECTED the Governor’s proposal in January to rollback SSI/SSP grant levels to the minimum allowed by the federal government.