Policy Priorities

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Children's State Budget Watch


The state budget is an important moral statement of what we value as a state and where our priorities lie. CDF-CA believes we must invest in quality child care, health care, education, nutritious food and other programs that help create a level playing field for all children. 

At a time when almost one in four California children lives in poverty, the state needs to restore critical investments in children’s programs and begin repairing our tattered social safety net. California’s children and families are struggling with astounding poverty rates and a scarcity of services now – California’s fiscal health must be used to protect our children and our future. 

 Governor Brown Releases 2014 - 15 Budget Proposal

On January 9th, Governor Brown released his proposed budget for the year - one day earlier than planned following an unexpected leak. Despite increases to K-12 education, the budget proposal ultimately falls short of meeting the needs of our state's poorest children by failing to restore and strengthen our state social welfare programs after the  five years of devastating cuts that left the safety net in tatters and our most vulnerable families without a lifeline. 

Read our statement on the budget proposal »

Read a joint statement from our children's health coverage coalition »

Check out this presentation for more information on how the Governor's budget proposal impacts our most vulnerable children.

How the Governor’s 2014-15 Budget Proposal Would Affect California Children

Despite California’s growing state revenues and fiscal stability, Governor Brown’s 2014-15 fails to restore critical investments in children’s programs or repair a social safety net that has been slashed by budget cuts in past years.  Governor Brown has continued his refrain of fiscal restraint and emphasized paying down $11.8 billion in debt and building up a $2.3 billion reserve. The budget proposal maintains billions of dollars in devastating cuts to programs serving California’s most vulnerable children and families.

The Governor’s proposal does include a significant funding increase for K-12 education, as required under voter-approved Proposition 98, as well as additional resources for higher education. While the Governor’s continued investment in education is a positive step, children also need health care, quality child care and early education, and family supports to survive and flourish.


The Governor’s budget reflects a 5% increase in CalWORKs grants adopted in the 2013-14 budget, but proposes no additional grant increases. Cash grants for most families will remain below 50% of the federal poverty line. The budget maintains the 24-month limit for parents to receive benefits, which is down from 60 months in 2011.  The budget proposes a 3-year, 6-county pilot to provide targeted assistance,  licensed child care and work readiness activities) to 2,000 CalWORKs families who face multiple challenges to securing employment.

Children's Health Care

The Governor’s budget reflects the full implementation of federal health care reform in California. The proposal maintains a 10% cut to payment for doctors, dentists and other providers in Medi-Cal, while partially rolling back the retroactive portion of the cut. California’s Medi-Cal provider payments are already among the lowest in the country, and may discourage providers from participating in the Medi-Cal program.

The Governor has acknowledged that the state needs to continue to monitor whether children and families are able to actually access health care and services in Medi-Cal, and identifies children’s dental and vision services as areas needing additional focus. The Governor proposes to invest $17.5 million in dental outreach activities for children age 0 to 3.

K-12 Education

The Governor proposes a significant increase in funding for K-12 education, which will be split between providing ongoing funding for schools and one-time funds for debt repayment and facility maintenance. The budget would provide $4.5 billion to continue implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, a new funding formula passed last year that directs additional resources to disadvantaged students. Despite the reinvestment in education in the last two budgets, California’s per-student education spending still lags far behind the national average.

The budget would also eliminate $5.6 billion in debt owed to schools and provide $188 million for emergency facility repairs.

Child Care and Preschool

The Governor’s proposed budget maintains last year’s funding levels for subsidized child care and the state preschool program, leaving in place the elimination of 110,000 child care and preschool slots due to budget cuts since 2007.

Fact Sheet on California Budget Cuts to Children Over the Past Five Years

CDF-CA's fact sheet, "Slashing Children from the Budget: California Budget Cuts to Children Over the Past Five Years," shows how budget cuts over the past five years have impacted poor children and highlights why California must begin to restore those devastating cuts and rebuild the social safety net.

Upcoming Budget Hearings

The Legislature needs to hear from you about how the state budget would affect children and families in your communities.  If you are interested in attending an upcoming budget hearing, please contact Michele Stillwell-Parvensky at msp@childrensdefense.org. 

Senate Budget Committee

  • Overview of the Governor’s 2014-15 Budget
    Thursday, January 23, 9:30 or upon adjournment of session – State Capitol Room 4203, Sacramento, CA
  • Corrections and Rehabilitation 
    Thursday, January 30, 9:30 or upon adjournment of session –State Capitol Room 4203, Sacramento, CA
  • Budget Reserve
    Thursday, February 27, 9:30 or upon adjournment of session – State Capitol Room 4203, Sacramento, CA



Share Your Story

If you, your child, or a child in your community has been affected by the proposed cuts to CalWORKs, children’s health, child care, or other state programs, and you would be willing to share your story with the legislature and the media to fight the proposed cuts, please Michele Stillwell-Parvensky at msp@childrensdefense.org.