As you know, we’re actively supporting three bills this year, bills that aim to improve our social safety net and provide women and children with opportunities to permanently pull themselves out of poverty and achieve economic security.
Over the course of last week, our policymakers made important decisions about these bills, pushing some along and stopping one groundbreaking bill in its tracks.
First, the sad news.
SB 899 (Mitchell), which aimed to repeal the harmful Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule, did not pass out of Senate Appropriations—the insiders would say that it “died” in committee.
What does that mean for California women and children? It means that infants born to mothers who are receiving CalWORKs assistance will continue to be denied lifesaving cash aid. It also means that children in poverty will continue being pushed deeper into poverty.
Had this bill passed and been signed into law, it could have reduced childhood poverty in our state by astonishing 7.4 percent.
Unfortunately, our policymakers decided that the cost of implementing this bill was too high. But what about the long-term costs of children living in poverty, food insecurity and under stress?
Second, the bittersweet news.
SB 1029 (Hancock), came out of Senate Appropriations, but with a major revision. This bill aims to address poverty and recidivism by allowing women and men who have served their time for a drug felony conviction to receive basic needs assistance and employment support through CalWORKs (welfare-to-work program) and CalFresh (food stamps).
Though this bill passed Appropriations, it did so with a major revision—CalWORKs was taken out. Now, if this bill is signed into law, women and men who had served time will be able to receive food subsidies, but not job training or cash assistance that could help them pull themselves out of poverty.
Finally, the good news.
Yesterday California Senate voted 21-12 to raise the minimum wage to $13/hour in 2017. If signed into law, the Minimum Wage Fairness Act, SB 935 (Leno), would help over 35 percent of California workers make ends meet.
Today, two-thirds of all minimum wage workers are women. And half of those women are breadwinners for their families.
This bill is truly a game changer for California and has the potential to pull thousands of working families out of poverty. We’re proud to be this bill’s sponsor.
Starting today, we’ll continue fighting to raise the minimum wage and will soon be reaching out to you for your help and support. And we’ll continue fighting to repeal the Maximum Family Grant rule by supporting efforts to include a version of this bill in our state’s budget.