Amid Tough Fiscal Climate, California's Balanced Budget Deal is a Win for Kids

Amid Tough Fiscal Climate, California’s Balanced Budget Deal is a Win for Kids

On June 26, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the 2024-25 state budget. The Children’s Partnership appreciates, especially in this challenging budget year, that this agreement between the Governor and the Legislature preserves many of the state’s investments in programs that support the health of children and their families.

TCP is particularly grateful for the steps the Governor and our state’s budget leaders have taken toward funding continuous Medi-Cal coverage for children ages 0-5, an impactful move that puts young children on a path to good health and begins to correct long-standing systemic barriers in the program.

At the same time, the budget contains painful cuts to programs and services that families depend on to stay healthy and thrive, and we are disappointed that additional revenue options were not considered to prevent these cuts that will have a disproportionate burden on families of color and low-income families across California.

Budget positives:

  • Protects Managed Care Organization tax investments for Medi-Cal, including funding to implement multi-year continuous Medi-Cal eligibility for young children (effective January 1, 2026) and a rate increase for community health workers, promotores and representatives.
  • Preserves funding for the expansion of Medi-Cal health care coverage to all income-eligible Californians, regardless of immigration status and including In-Home Supportive Services.
  • Maintains funding for health enrollment navigators at clinics.
  • Retains $250 million for the Middle Mile Broadband Initiative for the 2024-25 budget year and preserves funding for Last Mile projects over the two-year period to connect unserved and underserved communities to broadband internet service
  • Maintains prior year commitments to the Multifamily Housing Program and makes additional investments of $500 million in the State Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program and $1 billion in the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention Program.
  • Preserves investments in anti-poverty state tax credits, including the CalEITC, Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC) and Foster Youth Tax Credit (FYTC), which together directed more than $1.3 billion in cash back into the hands of more than 3.5 million Californians in 2023, helping struggling families afford the soaring costs of everyday basic necessities like food, housing and child care.
  • Funds approximately 11,000 new child care slots and pauses expansion slots by two years to 2026-27.
  • Includes funding for CalWORKs base grants, SUN Bucks (formerly Summer EBT), foster care rate increases and reparations implementation; maintains but delays funding for the California Food Assistance Program expansion.

TCP understands that this is a tough budget year and sacrifices must be made. However, we are still disappointed that some of those sacrifices come at the expense of the health and well-being of California’s children and families living on low incomes.

Budget negatives:

  • Eliminates funding for various health care workforces, including health enrollment navigators at community-based organizations, which will lead to the layoffs of workers who help people from historically marginalized communities enroll in and renew their public benefits, including Medi-Cal.
  • Eliminates funding in the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative across several programs, placing additional pressures on schools and community-based providers to compete for a shrinking pool of local resources to meet the needs of children and youth.
  • Reverts $7.5 million provided for the Youth Suicide Reporting and Crisis Reporting Pilot Program, hindering the cross-county collaboration and knowledge exchange for responding to youth crises with appropriate, compassionate and timely care.
  • Cuts $1.1 billion of funding from critical affordable housing and homelessness programs, making an already-difficult housing situation nearly impossible for families living on low incomes.
  • Cuts $10 million – fully half of last year’s funding – for free tax preparation assistance, individual taxpayer identification number application support, and education and outreach, which provide free support to families from trusted local community-based organizations to access anti-poverty tax credits and provide free tax filing services.

There are still opportunities to make policy choices that won’t inflict further harm on struggling families. The budget can be amended until Aug. 31, when the Legislature adjourns for final recess; the Governor then has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature.

Children’s health equity is always a multi-year strategy, and we can do more to protect our progress in ensuring families have the resources they need to keep their children healthy and thriving. California’s budget reflects our state’s values, and TCP will continue working with our partners to fight for investments in health equity for all children, including revenues needed to support health, well-being and racial justice.