California has apparently “fixed” its budget deficit, but at what cost? One of the fallouts from the unfolding budget crises in cities and states has of course been cuts to social programs. But the scale of those cuts often gets masked by the noise of political fighting. One could be forgiven for not being able to keep track of the dismantling of many programs, and the continual backward slide in funding for things like schools and healthcare. Is the damage done? Have we arrived at a “new normal” in which cities and states just don’t pay for these things anymore?
Social service advocates say the damage from billions of dollars in cuts over several years has already been done and in some cases will get worse. Cash grants to welfare recipients have been cut by 12 percent over the past three years, according to the Western Center on Law and Poverty in Sacramento, which advocates for low-income Californians.As of this month, the maximum cash grant is $638 for a family of three, the organization said – which is 40 percent of the federal poverty line.”For the families who have been dealing with the cuts, nothing has changed – theyre still being denied services,” said Michael Herald, a legislative advocate for the group. “Its nice that the budget is balanced, but it doesnt mean a lot to them.”