March 14, 2011; Source: Los Angeles Times | The debates around state budgets often focus on the big number, the projected multi-billion dollar deficit, but sometimes miss the specifics of the programs that are going to be cut and their impacts on people in need.

In California, the budget bill proposed by the Democrats contained some deep and painful cuts, including:

  • reducing SSI/SAP grants for seniors and the disabled to the federal minimum of $830 a month, down from $907 two years ago (saving $192 million);
  • reducing welfare grants by 8 percent to $638 for a family of three in a high cost county (saving $300 million) and cutting the adult time limit for benefits from five years to four;
  • reducing MediCal funding by $1.6 billion, including a 10 percent rate reduction for providers, increasing co-pays for patients, no funding for over-the-counter cold medicines or nutritional supplements (unless the patient is tube-fed);
  • eliminating child care for most 11- and 12-year old children of working welfare mothers (saving $39 million);
  • eliminating state support of county fairs (saving $30 million);
  • eliminating state subsidies for property tax incentives to keep land in agriculture and open space (saving $20 million); and the list goes on.

Oddly, the Republicans are opposed to these cuts proposed by California Dems, but haven't laid out their own agenda of slashes. Remember that these budget cuts come on top of cascading program rescissions and terminations from preceding years. In the wake of a continuing economic crisis that looks like it may be heading for yet another dip, so many cuts in California and other states seem penny wise and pound foolish for people in need.—Rick Cohen